Southwest's new livery featuring the "Heart" on the belly of the aircraft. (Credits: Stephen M. Keller / Southwest Airlines)

MIAMI — Southwest Airlines will now offer shipping cargo services to international destinations starting in May 2018, subject to government approvals.

The first international destinations for the airline’s cargo services are Mexico City, Cancun, Cabo San Lucas/Los Cabos, and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. However, the Southwest expects to launch more international destinations in 2018.

With this new service, the world’s first Low-Cost Carrier will now diversify its product portfolio by carrying some extra cargo on the bellies of its Boeing 737s. Southwest says that their planes can carry as much as 11,500lbs of cargo on each flight.

“By offering the cross-border services that our Customers are looking for, we’re able to help meet the needs of businesses throughout the United States and, soon, in Mexico,” said Matt Buckley, Southwest Airlines’ Vice President of Cargo and Charters.

Buckley also added that as the airline enters the international cargo market, “customers will have more opportunities to experience the friendly and reliable service for which our Cargo Team is known.”

According to the carrier, the new international shipping options will be handled via Southwest Cargo’s new point-of-sale and back-office accounting system, called Southwest Cargo Suite (SCS).

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SCS is expected to take the place of the current system in March 2018, and along with international capabilities, give customers the ability to make advanced cargo bookings, and utilize electronic Air Waybills.

Also, Southwest Cargo was honored today by winning the Airforwarders Association’s Domestic Carrier of the Year award. This is the ninth consecutive year the carrier has earned the honor.

By carrying extra cargo aside from the regular passenger bags, the airline will be able to decrease the break-even passenger load factor on each flight, increasing their performance and the likelihood of offering lower prices to the flying public.