Southwest announced it will form a codeshare partnership with Mexican carrier Volaris, an agreement that will take effect in 2010. Details are sketchy at the moment, but the agreement will allow Southwest to provide service to Mexico through its new partner.
Never heard of Volaris? At first glance, the carrier resembles Southwest a bit, at least in its focus on affordable, punctual service with few extra frills. Volaris, like Southwest, does not charge for the first two checked bags. The airline also offers free snacks and soft drinks, but, unlike Southwest, Volaris gives out complimentary alcoholic beverages.
As for destinations, Volaris takes a distinctly Southwest-ish approach, hitting popular vacation spots such as Cancun, Acapulco, and Los Cabos, while flying to airports near big cities, such as Toluca and Puebla, outside Mexico City. Toluca is its main hub, with Tijuana also serving as a major departure point.
So what will this mean for Southwest passengers? Well, as I said above, details have yet to be released, but it appears passengers can expect seamless ticketing to Mexico destinations and a fairly comparable flight experience. Connecting to Volaris flights also needs to be sorted out—will the carrier be adding flights to U.S. cities already served by Southwest? And as for how much tickets will cost, it's difficult to say because the airlines haven't worked out their pricing yet. However, a quick check of a few flights departing on Volaris next week showed fares within the range Southwest flyers are used to:
- Tijuana to Cancun: $130 one-way
- Tijuana to Los Cabos: $72 one-way
- Toluca to Merida: $39 one-way
Is this the big move Southwest fans (and industry pundits) have been waiting for? Sure could be. And I mean no disrespect to Canada, of course, which will be getting Southwest service next year via a codeshare with WestJet, but Mexico represents a big win for Southwest. Its combination of popular year-round vacation spots and a huge population should mean big business when the agreement takes effect.