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Southwest plans for international flights

Travel Weekly (registration required) reports that Southwest Airlines is in the process of upgrading its reservations system to allow for the sale of international flights.

So when can we expect to see Southwest’s familiar orange-and-blue planes heading abroad? Not for awhile it seems, perhaps even as far out as 2009. But the low-cost airline is planning a foray into the international market with codeshare flights on its partner, ATA. ATA now flies to Cancun and Guadalajara, Mexico.

Travel Weekly rightly points out that while budget travelers may relish the prospect of more cheap international routes, this is probably the last thing Southwest’s competitors want to see. The so-called legacy airlines have been dealing with the “Southwest effect” of falling fares for years. If this phenomenon is exported, how will the big airlines cope?

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