I know I didn’t get to it last week, but I couldn’t let Southwest’s massive schedule change go by without at least a passing mention. For those who missed it, Southwest decided to cut 57 flights and add 40 new ones beginning May 10. You math whizzes out there might notice that means they’re ending up with 17 fewer flights. I’d say that might be a good thing since demand has been lightening up.
If there’s one place that’s benefiting here, it’s Denver. The Mile High City will get 18 new flights including 15 to 6 brand new cities. Which cities, you ask? Well, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Raleigh/Durham, San Antonio, San Jose, and St Louis will all get nonstops. As you might have guessed, this is bad news for Frontier. They fly to five of those six cities, and they’re going to be hurting. Here’s a comparison with the number of flights offered on these new routes from Denver:
As you can see, United clearly maintains a large schedule advantage, but Southwest and Frontier are pretty close. This is just on top of the markets Southwest has already launched in the last year or so that sit on top of Frontier. It looks like they’re going for the jugular here. Kind of funny to see an airline that was in the same position 30 years ago turn around and do it to someone else.
Obviously, to fly these new flights, they’ve had to get the planes from somewhere else. They haven’t actually cut a single route, but they’ve cut frequencies in a bunch of markets. Some of these are mostly inconsequential, like Las Vegas to Phoenix going from 18 to 17 flights a day, but some routes are getting cut in half. Orlando to Detroit, for example, goes from 2 flights per day to 1. Some of the cuts are seasonal, so for example, a lot of Florida markets get cut for the summer while the Pacific Northwest gains a couple.
Overall, it seems like a pretty good move on their part. I am curious about the Denver strategy, however. They either must be seeing something they like in the trends over there or they’ve decided that it’s time to go after their prey and hope that things improve if they’re successful.
If you’d like to see all the changes, check out this PDF.