<a href="http://www.dr1.com/"><b>DR1</b></a> is reporting:
<blockquote> In an address to the press during the closing of the 2008 Annual Caribbean Tourism Summit, Alec Sanguinetti, CEO of the Caribbean Hotel Association speculated that Southwest airlines could be interested in flying to the Caribbean. He said that nations that adopt pre-clearance would be in a position to receive Southwest jets. Pre-clearance is a facility that allows passengers to clear US Customs at airports outside of the United States. The speculation came after conference speaker Darryl Jenkins commented that Southwest had appointed a vice president of international routes.
"That is significant. I think it is fair to say Southwest does not take action without knowing where they are going and that they will be able to make money out of it," said Sanguinetti. He pointed out that in these difficult days, Southwest will only fly where it is sure it can turn a profit. "They are hedged at US$50 a barrel through 2010," he explained. "They have cash to do it [open routes to the Caribbean]".
He explained that it is the only airline that has a 10-year labor contract with its crew, and that they have a very efficient fleet. Nevertheless, he cautioned that these low-cost carriers only fly from airports where operating costs meet their model and allow them to fly in and out quickly and turn flights around in 30 minutes. "If instead of half an hour, it were to take a 737 an hour, on their current schedule they would need more airplanes", he explained. He was making the point that only efficient airports would be able to attract low-cost carriers such as Southwest.
Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) is the local airport that has made progress in preparing for the possible granting of pre-clearance for the next winter season, and could be the first in the DR to offer the facility.</blockquote>