Southwest jumps at Love Field amendment, adds 25 itineraries
By Andrew Compart
Southwest increased its Love Field itineraries from 18 cities to 43 and immediately
raised the intensity of its competition with
American just days after many of the federal restrictions on service from the Dallas
airport were lifted.
The changes mean travelers can book
connecting or same-plane through tickets
for flights from Love to 25 cities — Love
Field travelers could get to those cities before, but only by purchasing separate tickets
for each leg and transferring any checked
Southwest already had been quietly ad-
justing its schedule in what Bill Owen, its
lead planner for scheduling, called “stealth
mode.” The airline has been tweaking its
schedule for a year “to make sure that when
the law was modified Southwest would be
well positioned to make as much of our
network accessible to Dallas as possible,”
“We’ve also been slowly, and quietly, adding service between Dallas and existing service points such as Albuquerque, St. Louis
and New Orleans so that when we ‘flipped
the switch’ on these new itineraries, they
would be as quick and convenient for our
customers as possible,” he said.
Travelers will have to wait longer for
Southwest to make any additional adjustments. “We are currently evaluating the
schedule for March through June, which
is the more practical time to add flights,”
Southwest Vice Chairman and CEO Gary
Under Wright Amendment restrictions,
Southwest and any other airline operating from Love with aircraft configured for
more than 56 seats could offer nonstop service only to and from points within Texas
and nine nearby states. Airlines also could
not sell or market connecting service via
Under the new law signed by President
Bush Oct. 13, the nonstop restrictions will
remain in place for eight more years, at
which point they’ll be lifted for all domestic
routes. But effective immediately, airlines
can sell connecting and through service
from Love to anywhere in the world via
points within the nine-state area.
Southwest’s jump from 18 to 43 itineraries doesn’t count the new connections to
code-share partner ATA’s flights to Maui,
Honolulu and New York (LaGuardia).
With multiple frequencies on the routes,
the changes created 101 new itineraries.
The number of Southwest daily departures at Love remains at 125, for now. Based
on current load factors on those flights,
on average about a third of the seats will
be available to sell for connecting service,
which “should translate into the potential of
thousands of passengers a day,” Kelly said.
Kelly also said he’d be “disappointed” if the
new service doesn’t generate more than $50
million a year in additional revenue.
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Kelly said Southwest was lowering full-coach fares in the new markets by hundreds
of dollars and even was reducing many of
the discounted fares by more than 50%; the
highest fare in any market is $319.
Travelocity.com said most airlines had
matched the lowest fares, although American expects to be able to charge slightly
higher fares for its nonstop service from
Dallas/Fort Worth over the long term.
“We undoubtedly will try to charge a
modest premium for nonstop flights,” said
American Chairman and CEO Gerard
Arpey. “But people will take a one-stop to
save money, so we’ll have to watch the traffic pattern.”
Arpey also encouraged travelers to “check
AA.com before they presume Southwest
has the lowest fare. I think a lot of people
would be surprised.”
But Kelly said he remains confident in
Southwest’s ability to take customers away
from American and generate new demand.
“I do think some customers will prefer
nonstop flights at higher fares, but I would
be surprised if customers didn’t vote with
their feet for low fares,” he said. “We’ll just
have to see how that competition evolves.”