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In midst of pandemic, Southwest Airlines to launch new route between MSP and Houston

The airline industry has taken a massive hit from the pandemic.

Despite the pandemic drastically reducing air travel and routes, airline giant Southwest has announced a new route from MSP Airport.

The world's sixth largest airline has said it will launch a route between the Twin Cities and Houston's William P. Hobby Airport early next year.

Hobby is Houston's secondary airport, and is located closer to downtown Houston than the much larger George Bush International Airport.

Southwest will be the first carrier to offer Minnesota travelers a route to Houston Hobby (HOU). Currently, Delta and United offer services from MSP to Bush International (IAH).

The new route will commence on Mar. 11, 2021, with Southwest operating daily flights between MSP and HOU using a Boeing 737-700.

Southwest says Houston was the 21st largest domestic market from MSP in 2019, averaging 168,000 passengers annually.

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"The Southwest expansion at MSP brings a new airport and even more flight options to Houston and southeast Texas,” said Brian Ryks, CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which operates MSP.

"Houston Hobby will also provide additional connecting opportunities on Southwest to their network of international destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America."

It comes after a turbulent time for the airline industry, with the pandemic causing huge losses and job cuts as more people stayed home amid global travel restrictions.

Houston will be Southwest's 15th route from MSP, but at the moment it's only operating three of them: Chicago Midway, Denver, and Phoenix.

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