Southwest Airlines (LUV) plans to announce a schedule for international service under the Southwest brand next year, Chief Executive Gary Kelly said on Thursday.
Service outside the United States "will be a first in our 43-year history," Kelly said at the Wings Club in New York during a meeting that was broadcast over the Internet.
Southwest presently offers flights to Mexico and the Caribbean through AirTran, which it acquired in 2011. The carrier is overhauling its reservations system so it can process international bookings.
With a view to expanding service in the coming years, Southwest is investing more than $100 million to upgrade Houston's William Hobby Airport. It is installing new gates and a customs facility as it looks to add flights to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America in 2015.
Additionally, restrictions on non-stop flights Southwest can operate from its base at Love Field in Dallas will be lifted next year when the Wright Amendment - federal legislation introduced in the 1970s to govern traffic - expires.
"We have some wonderful opportunities to bring more competition and lower fares where we don't currently serve markets," said Kelly.