While every other airline in the U.S. is cutting back service, those that are still in business anyway, Southwest Airlines recently announced plans to add additional flights this fall. At about the same time the legacy carriers are cutting routes and in some cases entire cities from their lists of cities served. The additions aren’t happening without quite a few cutbacks, though. Southwest will eliminate 31 existing roundtrip flights, while adding 40 new roundtrip flights in key growth cities such as Denver and Ft. Lauderdale. So it sucks for the people who depend on those direct flights.
The list of schedule changes is a little lenghty for me to post here. To view a complete chart of the schedule changes in each city, check out the Southwest Flight Changes website.
“We are trimming our flight schedule, frequently and continually, of unproductive flights, while we continue to grow in cities like Denver,” Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said. “We have a much different story to tell today than our competitors. We are well prepared financially, we are the nation’s Leading Low Fare Airline, we are still growing, and our People provide outstanding Customer Service. Best of all, we don’t nickel and dime our Customers with added fees.”
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How is Southwest doing this? By “hedging” fuel costs. To put it simply, Southwest bought fuel in HUGE quantities before the price went up. If you need a literary reference, it’s pretty similar to when Cal in Steinbeck’s East of Eden purchased soybeans at a premium price anticipating the price rising during the war. So, they bought fuel at a premium price several years ago. The price they paid is now much lower than the current cost of fuel and it’s saving them a ton of money compared to their competitors. However, it is my understanding the airline’s current deal will soon expire.
Several markets will be gaining new nonstop service beginning November 2, including:
- Three new daily nonstop roundtrips between Denver and Orange County.
- Two new daily nonstop roundtrips between Denver and Tulsa.
- One new daily nonstop roundtrip between Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood and Las Vegas.
- One new daily nonstop roundtrip between Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood and Kansas City.
- One new daily nonstop roundtrip between Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood and Albany.
- One new daily nonstop roundtrip between Ft. Myers and St. Louis.
You know it just wouldn’t be Southwest Airlines if there wasn’t some kind of sale. To celebrate the new nonstop service, the airline is offering $69 one-way advance purchase ticekts between Denver and Tulsa and a $79 one-way advance purchase fare between Denver and Orange County. For $89, you can score a one-way advance purchase fare between Ft. Lauderdale and Kansas City and Albany and a $149 one-way advance purchase fare will get you from Ft. Lauderdale to Las Vegas (or vice versa). Finally, you can travel between Ft. Myers and St. Louis for $69 each way with advance purchase. You can get in on the action today through the Southwest Airlines website for travel between November 2 and January 9, 2009.