Las Vegas Sun

March 4, 2024

Las Vegas’ busiest air carrier expanding in N.J.

Southwest often offers nonstop flights to Vegas in new markets

Southwest Airlines, the busiest air carrier at McCarran International Airport, has negotiated a lease agreement with Continental Airlines that would enable Southwest to operate up to 18 round trips a day from Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J.

The lease is contingent upon the closing of the proposed merger between Continental and United by Nov. 30.

Bob Jordan, Southwest’s vice president of strategy and planning, said the deal opens the door to starting service to Newark in March with the maximum number of flights available by June.

“We are excited by the opportunity to initiate service from Newark, N.J., and we plan to enable that service starting next March through continued flight schedule optimization using our existing fleet,” Jordan said in a news release. “We’ve seen tremendous demand for Southwest Airlines in the New York City-Newark area in the past year.”

Liberty International is just west of New York City.

Dallas-based Southwest said it is working with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Continental and United to complete arrangements for beginning service, including approvals on the acquisition of gates and facilities.

Details on what cities Southwest would serve from Newark, fares and when service would begin have not been determined.

Las Vegas is one of Southwest’s largest markets, and the airline frequently offers nonstop round trips to Las Vegas when entering new markets.

Southwest currently offers a nonstop round trip between Las Vegas and Long Island’s MacArthur Airport in Islip, N.Y., but that service will end Nov. 7 when the company’s next schedule takes effect.

Southwest also flies into LaGuardia International Airport but is restricted from offering a nonstop route to Las Vegas by perimeter rules imposed by the port authority.

Continental, currently the only carrier offering nonstop flights between Newark and Las Vegas, operates an average of six flights a day on the route. Continental customers often connect through Newark on trips to Europe.

“The divestiture of (takeoff and landing) slots at Newark by the combined Continental-United will ensure competition is enhanced and we appreciate the Department of Justice’s role in finding a fair solution,” Jordan said.

Southwest currently operates 217 flights a day in and out of Las Vegas, by far the most by any carrier, according to McCarran figures.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy