DALLAS, Dec. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) today announced that less than two weeks after unveiling www.southwest.com/HOU-DCA , more than 10,000 supporters signed a petition advocating for nonstop service between Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), with same-plane, continuing service to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Earlier this month, Southwest filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for slot exemptions that would allow the carrier to offer nonstop service between DCA and HOU. The proposed service is possible due to Spirit Airlines' discontinued use of the slot exemptions, which are available for use inside Washington National's traditional 1,250 mile service perimeter. In addition to the more than 10,000 supporters who endorsed the petition, many federal, state, and local officials—including four United States Senators and 30 Members of Congress from Texas and New Mexico, as well as the Mayors of Houston and Albuquerque—voiced their support through letters to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Other supporters include the City of Houston and the Greater Houston Partnership, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Houston Area Urban League, and the Association of Commerce and Industry of New Mexico, just to name a few. A decision by the DOT is expected in the first quarter of 2013. Southwest is prepared to begin service this spring if awarded the slots. Southwest has served Houston since June 18, 1971, and currently has more than 2,700 HOU Employees operating 143 daily flights. Earlier this year, the Houston City Council approved Southwest's proposal to construct a new five-gate international facility at Hobby Airport. This new service is scheduled to begin in 2015. ABOUT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO. In its 42nd year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by nearly 46,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually. Southwest is the nation's largest carrier in terms of originating passengers boarded, and including wholly-owned subsidiary, AirTran Airways, operates the largest fleet of Boeing aircraft in the world to serve 97 destinations in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and six near-international countries. Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for its commitment to the triple bottom line of Performance, People and Planet. To read about how Southwest is doing its part to be a good corporate citizen, visit southwest.com/citizenship to read the Southwest Airlines One Report™.