Southwest Airlines announced a flurry of flight moves Thursday, with a mix of good news and bad news for travelers.
The nation’s largest domestic carrier said it plans to end flights at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, on Nov. 3, consolidating its operations in metropolitan New York at LaGuardia Airport. The airline blamed poor financial results at Newark, where it began service in 2011.
Southwest has 20 daily departures from Newark to 10 cities including Baltimore, Chicago, Denver and Phoenix. Affected travelers will be rebooked or can receive a refund.
Southwest also said it has removed the Boeing 737 Max 8 from its schedule through Jan. 5, which covers the busy holiday travel season.
It is the first airline to extend Max cancellations past early November. Earlier this month, Southwest and other carriers extended cancellations into November. Southwest is the largest U.S. operator of the Max, with 34 of the planes at the time of the grounding in March.
The decision comes despite Boeing statements as recently as Wednesday that the Max is estimated to return to service as early as October. Southwest said it made the move to “provide reliability of our operation and dependability for our customers booking their fall and holiday travel.” Most travelers haven’t booked holiday travel yet. Travelers holding tickets will be notified about rebooking options.
Southwest to begin selling more Hawaii flights in August
Southwest, which began service to Hawaii from Oakland, California, in March, said it will finally add more Hawaii flights. The airline had previously announced plans to fly between San Diego and Sacramento and Hawaii as well as add flights to Kauai and Hilo from California but those plan were delayed by the Max grounding, which reduced its available aircraft.
The airline didn’t reveal specifics Thursday but said it will resume its Hawaii growth plans next month. Spokesman Brad Hawkins said tickets will go on sale for some of the new Hawaii flights in August.
Southwest also announced plans to begin flights to Cozumel, Mexico. Pending regulatory approval, flights from Houston to Cozumel will begin in early 2020, the airline said. Southwest already serves Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. It ended flights to Mexico City earlier this year.