HOUSTON — Southwest Airlines launched its new international cargo program from William P. Hobby Airport on Sunday, July 15, 2018, with a flight to Mexico City, adding to the growing cargo operations for the Houston Airport System.
The inaugural flight to Mexico City is only the beginning. Later this year, Southwest intends to add cargo services on routes between the United States and Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas/Los Cabos, and will add other countries to its international cargo network throughout the remainder of 2018.
“We applaud Southwest Airlines’ decision to expand cargo operations between Mexico City and Hobby Airport. This move takes advantage of Houston’s growing logistics expertise and adds strength to the Houston economy,” said Houston Airport System Director Mario Diaz.
This past spring, Southwest Cargo rolled out its new back office and point of sale system, Southwest Cargo Suite. The suite of products and customer-facing solutions laid the foundation for this month’s start of the carrier’s international shipping program.
“Our teams have been hard at work getting ready for this historic milestone, and now we’re set to take our award-winning Cargo services to places we’ve never been able to reach before,” said Matt Buckley, Southwest’s Vice President of Cargo and Charters. “We can’t wait to begin working with our Customers on both sides of the border and play a small role to help businesses grow.”
Southwest’s launch at Hobby Airport adds to the continued growth in the Houston Airport System’s air cargo service. In 2017, HAS handled more than 437,480 metric tons of cargo — a 4.3percent growth on air cargo traffic, led mainly by increasing demand of industrial parts and machinery for the oil and gas industry around the world.
Through the first five months of 2018 — January through May of 2018 — HAS’ air cargo numbers were up 15.7 percent year-to-date as Houston develops more opportunities to move industrial equipment, computer components, e-commerce goods and perishables products. Just for air cargo between Houston and Mexico over that five-month period, the total handled was 1,071 metric tons, representing a growth of 137.9 percent for this period. In May 2018 along, domestic and international air cargo numbers combined grew at a record pace of 27.8 percent over the totals for May 2017.
AirBridgeCargo, CargoLogicAir and Turkish Airlines Cargo started freighter service in Houston in the last 12 months — a total of 13 cargo carriers are currently operating in Houston. In addition, passenger airlines are finding more air cargo opportunities in Houston and the new Southwest cargo service creates new lines of business at Hobby Airport, after the carrier successfully started international passenger service in October 2015.