Southwest made a big schedule change today, and I think it’s worth analyzing a little further. First, the basics. From the press release, these flights all begin on March 11:
- Baltimore/Washington to Pittsburgh 3x daily
- Birmingham to Dallas/Love Field 2x daily
- Reno to San Diego 2x daily
- Cleveland to Orlando 2x daily
- Albuquerque to Las Vegas (+1 to 7x daily)
- Buffalo to Orlando (+1 to 3x daily)
- Burbank to Sacramento (+1 to 11x daily)
- Oakland to Spokane (+1 to 2x daily)
- Las Vegas to San Jose (+2 to 9x daily)
- Las Vegas to Sacramento (+1 to 8x daily)
- Los Angeles to Salt Lake City (+1 to 5x daily)
- Los Angeles to Tucson (+1 to 6x daily)
- Manchester to Orlando (+1 to 5x daily)
- Ft Myers to Orlando (+1 to 4x daily)
- Manchester to Philadelphia (+1 to 6x daily)
- Philadelphia to West Palm Beach (+1 to 2x daily)
- Portland to Sacramento (+1 to 7x daily)
- Philadelphia to Raleigh/Durham (+1 to 6x daily)
- Philadelphia to Tampa (+1 to 4x daily)
- Austin to Chicago/Midway (+1 to 2x daily)
- Dallas/Love Field to St Louis (+2 to 8x daily)
- Chicago/Midway to San Diego (+1 to 5x daily)
Also, on March 17:
- Chicago/Midway to Denver (+1 to 6x daily)
- Chicago/Midway to Seattle (+1 to 4x daily)
And lastly, on April 15:
- Chicago/Midway to Las Vegas (+1 to 12x daily)
- Chicago/Midway to Orlando (+1 to 8x daily)
As you can tell, that is a major change, even for an airline as large as Southwest. Thanks to the Southwest blog, we can now know a bit more about what they were thinking right here.
It appears that the driving force in this schedule was the ability to begin connecting traffic to Dallas/Love Field. That would certainly explain the added flights to St Louis and the new service to Birmingham that was previously surprisingly absent from the Southwest system. Beyond just the local market, many changes have been made to improve connectivity between Dallas and the rest of the system.
You’ll also notice that Chicago is getting a big boost in service. Midway has effectively become a one-airline airport with Southwest truly dominating. This can only solidify their position. I was amazed to see that this will make the 12th daily flight between Chicago and Vegas. United only has 7 out of O’Hare, American has 5, and US Airways has 4. I can guarantee you that Southwest is really pushing a lot of connecting traffic over their Chicago operation on to those flights.
Overall, this is a really interesting change and one that I’m sure a lot of airlines, especially American in Dallas/Ft Worth, will be studying closely.