Southwest announces the schedules from Sarasota/Bradenton and Savannah/Hilton Head Island, details about the return of the 737 MAX

Southwest Airlines today published initial flight schedules to bring sun-seekers to two new coastal destinations in the Southeast: Sarasota/Bradenton service begins Feb. 14, 2021, and Savannah/Hilton Head service begins March 11, 2021. Southwest Airlines® will also fly nonstop between Long Beach, Calif., and Honolulu once daily beginning March 11, 2021, opening a fifth gateway in California for Southwest Customers moving between the mainland and the Hawaiian Islands. Also beginning that same day, March 11, 2021, the carrier will fly once daily between Orange County/Santa Ana (SNA) and both Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos in Mexico, resuming international service on Southwest from the LA Basin.

SARASOTA/BRADENTON SERVICE BEGINS FEB. 14, 2021

Southwest is in its 25th year of serving the Sunshine State. Sarasota/Bradenton will be the carrier’s 10th airport in Florida, initially serving Customers across the country through four nonstop routes: Baltimore/Washington, Chicago (Midway), Houston (Hobby), and Nashville, all starting Feb. 14, 2021.

Fly daily between

Sarasota/Bradenton and:

Initial service nonstop each day up to:

One-way fare as low as:

Baltimore/Washington

3 flights each way

$89

Chicago (Midway)

2 flights each way

$89

Houston (Hobby)

1 flight each way

$69

Nashville

2 flights each way

$69

SAVANNAH/HILTON HEAD SERVICE BEGINS MARCH 11, 2021

Southwest is adding more service in Georgia. Savannah/Hilton Head will link to the carrier’s growing network through five nonstop routes: Baltimore/Washington, Chicago (Midway), Dallas (Love Field), Houston (Hobby), and Nashville, all starting March 11, 2021.

Fly daily between

Savannah/Hilton Head and:

Initial service nonstop each day up to:

One-way fare as low as:

Baltimore/Washington

2 flights each way

$49

Chicago (Midway)

1 flight each way

$79

Dallas (Love Field)

1 flight each way

$79

Houston (Hobby)

1 flight each way

$79

Nashville

1 flight each way

$49

 

LONG BEACH TO BECOME SOUTHWEST AIRLINES GATEWAY TO HAWAII

Southwest Airlines will add Long Beach Airport to a list of California airports including Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento, and San Diego, in offering service nonstop to the Hawaiian Islands every day. Once daily service between Long Beach and Honolulu begins March 11, 2021, with one-way fares as low as $99. Seats, days, and markets are limited. Blackout dates apply.

ORANGE COUNTY TO LOS CABOS AND PUERTO VALLARTA DAILY, NONSTOP

Southwest Airlines will reinstate international service from Orange County/Santa Ana on March 11, 2021, with once daily service to both Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8
(Ashlee D. Smith/Southwest Airlines)

In other news, the company has issued this statement concerning the Boeing 737 MAX:

Message from Gary Kelly, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

After a thorough and comprehensive review of Boeing’s enhancements to the 737 MAX 8, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued official requirements that enable airlines to return the MAX to service. Southwest is in receipt of the FAA’s directive regarding flight control software updates and additional Pilot training related to the MAX, and we are ready to meet each requirement. There is much work to be done before our MAX aircraft will resume service, which we estimate will likely take place no sooner than the second quarter of 2021. Today, I want to share a few of our thoughts and plans.

First and foremost, there is nothing more sacred to me than the Safety of our Customers and Employees. If we had a cause for doubt of the Safety of our fleet—or any subset of it—simply put, the planes would not fly. That is a moral obligation that I share with my fellow Southwest Family Members who work, fly, and travel with our own families on these aircraft. This is not only our profession, career, and livelihoods—it’s deeply personal to all of us.

Our Southwest Pilot Leadership Team has reviewed and expressed confidence in the MAX software and training updates following Boeing’s enhancements to the aircraft. I have personally been in contact with Boeing and the FAA regarding the changes and have been briefed by our internal experts. Additionally, aviation regulators from countries around the world have reviewed Boeing’s changes to the aircraft and the FAA’s new requirements.

Without getting too technical, we understand that Boeing has made changes to the flight control system that now compares input from two angle of attack sensors as opposed to one; the aircraft only responds if data from both sensors agree and only activates once per event; and Pilots always have the ability to override the aircraft’s input. These changes have been reviewed and approved by the FAA, and, with these enhancements, I am confident we will be ready to operate the MAX in accordance with the FAA’s requirements. I am going to be flying on the MAX before we return the aircraft to service—and the same is true for many other Southwest Leaders.

Before we return the aircraft to customer service, however, every active Southwest Pilot will complete additional FAA-required flight training in one of our nine 737 MAX simulators and will complete additional FAA-required computer-based training covering MAX procedures. Southwest will also require active Pilots to re-take our original 737 MAX 8 computer-based differences training as a refresher to complement the FAA-required training. Additionally, Southwest will conduct multiple readiness flights on each of our 34 MAX aircraft and complete thousands of hours of work, inspections, and the software updates before any of our Customers board a Southwest 737 MAX.

At Southwest, we only operate Boeing 737s, and our Pilots are highly trained and experienced at flying the aircraft. In fact, before the 737 MAX was grounded, Southwest Pilots flew almost 40,000 flights on the aircraft, which is more than 89,000 flight hours. Now, we’ll approach returning the MAX to service with the same commitment to training that we’ve employed for almost 50 years coupled with an uncompromising and unwavering commitment to Safety. For us, it’s a passionate pursuit, and it’s among the most important work of our careers. 

Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding throughout our upcoming return-to-service process for the 737 MAX. As always, we appreciate your support.

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