3 Links I Love: Failed LAX Plans, Bjorn Speaks, Vending Machine Ramen, A New Southwest Airport

Links I Love

LAX Alternate UniverseFlight Path Museum LAX
Here is a lengthy and detailed look at some of the past plans for LAX, most of which never came to fruition. I love this kind of stuff to see what could have been.

I was filming something at Ontario International Airport for the Cranky Network Awards this week when I stumbled across this ramen vending machine. It was actually more than Ramen, but I paid $12.99 and in a couple of minutes I had steaming hot tonkatsu ramen ready to eat. It may not have been the best ramen I’ve ever had, but man, it’s in a vending machine. This was still a good, filling meal, and I’d totally buy it again.

Norse Atlantic Airways’ Bjorn Tore Larsen on the startup airline’s plansTravel Weekly
It’s an interview with one of the three guys named Bjorn who are behind Norse Atlantic. This Bjorn says Norse Atlantic is nothing like Norwegian and in fact, no airline like it has ever existed. Sure.

Exclusive: Southwest Airlines May Consider Expanding In North Texas, Operating At 2nd Airport Later This DecadeCBS 11 DFW
This may be an exclusive, but it isn’t a surprise. As soon as the shackles are off and Southwest is able to legally fly to another Metroplex airport in 2025, I’d expect to see it happen fast. After all, Southwest may be more convenient to those in Dallas itself, but there are plenty of people in other parts of the Metroplex who don’t want to schlep to Love Field.

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24 comments on “3 Links I Love: Failed LAX Plans, Bjorn Speaks, Vending Machine Ramen, A New Southwest Airport

  1. I assume WN would look to add service from DFW if it services another airport in the metroplex.

    Wouldn’t it be fun, however, if they were able to add flights at Fort Worth Alliance instead of (or in addition to) DFW, thus bracketing AA’s DFW hub with operations at Alliance & Love? The headlines & billboard ads practically write themselves (“Southwest & the Metroplex: An Alliance of Love”, etc).

    I know that Fort Worth Alliance doesn’t currently have commercial passenger flights, and I’m not sure what facilities are available to be refurbished (or what land would be available for new construction of) as a pax terminal, and this is a crazy idea that will probably never happen, but still… Alliance has the runways to support WN’s planes, and may be more convenient for those on the FTW side of the metroplex than DFW airport is, especially given how bad traffic can be when trying to go east/west in the DFW area.

    /Just a fun, crazy idea. :-)

  2. Some thoughts on Southwest and Dallas. It’s funny at this point how things have come full circle. In the early 70s when DFW opened, a big chunk of the local flying public lived in Dallas, and especially on the north side of Dallas. Love Field was very convenient to them. American et al wanted protection from competition for those fliers, and the City of Fort Worth also wanted to protect their traffic at DFW, so efforts were made to close the airport to other airlines.

    The only way Southwest was able to fly was that they were considered an intrastate carrier, not subject to the CAB rules back before deregulation. Then after deregulation, there was constant legal wrangling for years, trying to prevent Southwest from taking those high-end fliers.

    Fast forward to today. Love Field is obviously still near downtown Dallas, but the majority of the population is no longer close to it. For most, DFW is a much easier place to get to. There is far better freeway access, and it’s centrally located. And as part of the legal agreement, they capped Love at 20 gates. Now Southwest, instead of having a major competitive advantage, is at a disadvantage here, because they cannot grow, they are in a small airport that is not easy to get to for a significant portion of the population, and they cannot fly internationally.

    It would surprise me if they moved to DFW, but you never know. They could establish some sort of operation in Fort Worth, though Meacham is more convenient to many than Alliance. Or they could put an operation in McKinney (the northeast side of the area). Years ago during the Wright Amendment years, Mesa tried to establish service at Meacham in Fort Worth, using CRJs. It was doing ok, but when Fort Worth sued Southwest during the ongoing Love Field saga, saying that all airlines had to be at DFW per the original agreement, then they wound up having to close their own service at Meacham.

    Will be interesting to see what happens, if Southwest just figures they will keep their monopoly at Love and let things be, or if they find another airport here other than DFW.

    1. Southwest has entered service in the following AA hubs: MIA, ORD, and CLT. They have expanded service in AA slot-controlled airports: DCA and LGA. Southwest will open a new terminal in PHX, another AA hub. It’s pretty clear that they will fly from another DFW-area airport once the associated Wright Amendment restrictions sunset.

      If I were Southwest, I would do all I could to get more gates in CLT. They have never taken full advantage of RDU and having a large presence between BWI and ATL will apply pressure to not only AA, but also DL in ATL. CLT would be more of a traditional hub-and-spoke operation, stealing share not only in CLT, but also in Florida and the Northeast. It would also open BWI for more O&D traffic. And it would be another dagger into Delta’s fortress in ATL. Southwest has shown that its presence in ATL is not competitive per se, but giving Delta passengers another option to connect through CLT would be yet another in their “Death By A Thousand Cuts” strategy vis-a-vis ATL. No one will admit it, but Southwest’s stunning Southeast growth (SRQ, MIA, CHS, MYR, GSP, return to JAN, the continued, unchecked, growth in BNA, PNS, and VPS) are all part of that strategy. Bypass ATL, trap Delta there, and grow like crazy. Delta will always make money in ATL, but all the edges that Southwest has been nibbling HAVE to be felt on Virginia Avenue.

      1. forgive me for interrupting you while you fantasize about Delta’s death to remind you:
        1. that this article is about Southwest’s potential (and likely growth) to another airport in N. Texas, not the SE.
        2. that Southwest inherited a 240-250 flight ATL operation w/ the AirTran acquisition but has pulled it back to a bit over 100 flights/day.
        3. that Southwest doesn’t do well in other carrier fortress hubs which is why they dropped EWR and are still relatively small in hubs like DTW, MSP, and IAD etc.
        4. WN is making IAH and ORD work because they have changed their network to be much more connecting basis – BWI and ORD are about 50% connecting traffic. They can compete for traffic out of legacy carrier strength hubs just as the legacy carriers do out of each other’s hubs by operating flights to their own hubs – which is why IAH-BNA, MDW, PHX etc are doing well.
        5. RDU is much more of a business market which is why DL built it up when AA decided (rightfully so) that was siphoning off connecting traffic from CLT.
        6. DL and WN seem to have reached an informal, unwritten agreement that DL is not designating BNA as a focus city – even though they are building the largest non-hub SkyClub and will likely add an international flight or two and flies to all 9 DL hubs – while WN has quit fighting getting DL out of Love Field and doesn’t fly DAL to DTW or MSP with DL and WN both flying to ATL. From ATL, WN adds a few cities like JAN and SDF where it carries connections but has dropped far larger markets like LAX and BOS
        7. There are enough DFW gates that WN can and likely eventually will add DFW flights to WN “hubs” but not a large operation – no different from ORD and IAH. For a larger operation, WN will go for another N. Texas airport that is further from DAL
        8. WN has filled DAL so there is no room for AA to go back to DAL and AS will likely drop out or be forced to use its gates efficiently, leaving DL as the only real competitor to WN at DAL.

        1. Delta is a great airline. Atlanta will be profitable forever for them. As I stated, Southwest presently is no threat to Delta in Atlanta. Delta MUST ensure, by whatever means necessary, that they continue to control all gates at ATL. Otherwise, the barbarians are at the gate.

          Meanwhile, Southwest keeps stealing share in the Southeast with its significant growth. Some of that stolen traffic must be at Delta’s expense.

          Delta can hardly be called “competition” to Southwest at Love Field. How many daily flights does Delta have there, 5-10 a day? What does SWA have, 170-180 a day? Southwest even provides the 717 aircraft Delta uses in DAL. Same scenario in Midway.

          Delta knows BNA won’t work for them just as MEM didn’t. Too close to ATL. It’s doubtful to me that Delta and Southwest have any unwritten agreements on anything. They compete fiercely in the marketplace, to the benefit of the consumer and to themselves. As you have repeatedly acknowledged, they are the two financial heavyweights. They like to pick on the other carriers, but while they grudgingly respect each other, they don’t hesitate to poke each other in the eyes when they can. The “uproar” over the lone Delta gate in DAL is a good example of this.

          1. Delta doesn’t need to monopolize gates at its hubs in order to remain the largest airline. ALL of Delta’s hubs have gates available for competitors and Delta complies with federal regulations for gate access – which is part of why you see Spirit in Delta’s LGA terminal. Airlines don’t get their pick of gates as Qatar and JetBlue have found out but they do get access to gates in Atlanta -which is not the case at Dallas Love Field.

            Delta is still the largest airline in more cities in the Southeast than any other airline including AA. You keep glossing over the fact that WN is not flying from ATL to most of the west nonstop. The SE esp. Florida is growing and the ULCCs are growing faster than DL or WN or AA.

            BNA was to be a focus city – which is separate from a hub. Delta likely gave up on calling it a focus city because gate space is so hard to come by that Delta can shift its resources elsewhere or do what WN doesn’t do – including adding international flights and vie for international passengers. In the process, they allow WN to grow BNA which might have a bigger benefit to WN by getting rid of ATL as a focus city; if you are worried about DL having a focus city with 75 flights/day at BNA, some of which will be on regional jets and the A220, you certainly can’t justify WN having 100+ flight/day operations at BOTH ATL and BNA – all on 143 seat 737s and many on 175 seat aircraft.

            DL has 5 flights/day from DAL but they manage to be the only real competition for WN to the east. AS’ regional jet flights don’t do much where they use them; perhaps if they consistently used mainline aircraft they might do better. DL remains at DAL for the same reason that it flies to MDW and HOU and BWI and OAK and LGB because they do not allow ANY scheduled carrier to fly to Delta hubs without offering competition. Given that DL remains at DAL and the catfights between WN and DL seem to have cooled off, I am betting both have accepted that DL isn’t going anywhere. Unlike AS which has far more gate access at DAL, DL can provide meaningful competition. Federal law requires that airports that receive federal funding must provide access to competition and, despite WN’s cries otherwise, courts have held that DL has those same rights at DAL as WN has at LGA or F9 does at MDW.

            And the point of all of this is that if WN starts service to another airport in N. Texas – which they are certain to do – DL will add service if WN adds flights to any of Delta’s hubs.

            As much as you and others see differently, competition is good. and DL and WN BOTH thrive because they compete well. DL just doesn’t allow WN to gain the monopoly at DAL HOU or MDW that they would love to have.

            1. Just 5 flights a day on Delta from DAL? If they go to 6 flights a day, I can hear you now: “Delta is the fastest-growing airline at Love Field!!”

              In all seriousness, when we discuss how Delta and Southwest compete against each other in their respective hubs, Delta’s truly token presence in SWA hubs (DAL, HOU, MDW, OAK) is much, much less meaningful than Southwest’s sizeable presence in both ATL and SLC. I would think that WN has more departures a day just from SLC than Delta has from OAK, HOU, MDW, and OAK COMBINED. And that doesn’t include the 100+ daily departures that you say Southwest operates from ATL. Just sayin!

              In terms of Southwest not competing well in other carriers major hubs, you need to go to Denver. If Southwest can gain a reasonable number of gates, it relishes competing against the hub incumbent. If you don’t believe that, call your friends at Delta and ask them to give up their leases on Terminal C in ATL. I think it’s safe to say another 15 gates in ATL would result in SWA adding back the West Coast non-stops they removed. Throw in half of Terminal B as well, to make it more fair.

              As always, I enjoy our chats. Take care, Mr. Dunn.

            2. I enjoy our chats as well, mostly because they provide an opportunity to discuss airline strategy as it actually works.
              1. Southwest acquired 31 gates from AirTran and a 240 flight/day operation. They gave up at least nine gates because they knew they couldn’t compete. And, no, they won’t re-add markets that they didn’t do well in before- they know full well that Delta got 40%+ revenue premiums; WN’s costs are not 40% lower than DL. Spirit, JetBlue and others moved into ATL as WN vacated those gates. and, yes, DL gained some.
              2. WN paid $1.4 billion to acquire AirTran and still shrunk.
              3. DEN is a shared hub with UA, not DL. It was UA’s inability to compete with WN in DEN post 2005 (when WN entered DEN) that has allowed WN to become the largest domestic airline at DEN, the only legacy carrier hub where the legacy carrier is not the largest carrier.
              4. If you reread what I previously wrote, I said that DL competes in markets where WN flies to DL hubs and that largely remains true. That does not mean that DL tries to offer anywhere near the size of operation in WN hubs. DL is after revenue, not market share but DL manages to retain its market share in its hubs better than AA or UA.
              5. That ATL C and D concourse that DL uses is to serve the 101 additional DOMESTIC cities that DL serves above what WN serves. DL is no more likely to give up C or D gates in ATL than WN is to give up gates at DAL. The mere suggestion that any airline would voluntarily give up gates that they are using to a competitor is…umm…. Questionable.
              6. And, looping back to how you started your response to this article, the most bizarre part of your post is that you think WN should build a hub in CLT which would hurt DL in ATL. Do you realize that CLT is AA’s 2nd largest hub?
              As much as you salivate at seeing DL get beat up by low cost carriers including WN, Delta took in more than 50% more revenue (over $7 billion) in 2021 than WN even though DL carried fewer passengers and carried a fraction of its pre-covid international traffic. WN is a high volume, low fare carrier compared to DL which is a high fare medium volume airline that generated more revenue than any other airline in the world in 2021. Volume isn’t everything. WN still pays its employees with the same bucks that DL does a better job of collecting.

              and the real news is the Frontier/Spirit merger which will most impact Southwest which has very limited growth for 2022 because the MAX7 won’t enter service this year.

              Bacon is right below.. WN will be in 3 or more N. Texas airports by 2030.

  3. WN at MDW has Preferential Leases on 32 of the 43 Total Gates, which includes 23 B-Concourse Gates & 9 A-Concourse Gates.
    *NOTE: Two of WN Gates currently used on A-Concourse might be Common Use

    Gates A1-A3 are International Gates & Common Use (Southwest, Porter & Volaris use these)
    Gates A7, A10, A12 & A14 are Common Use (Delta uses A7 for overflow & Allegiant uses A12)
    C1-C3 Common Use (Only Gates on C-Concourse- used for overflow, delays & charters)

    WN at ORD currently uses 3 or 4 Common Use Gates in Terminal 5-M Concourse. Rumored to be gaining additional gates after T5 Gate Expansion completed in Fall 2022

    WN at STL expanded into the former Ozark/TWA/AA D-Concourse and leased 4 former D-Concourse Gates (Now E-Concourse Gates) and are rumored to be looking at another 4 of the D-Concourse Gates.

    WN thinking of DFW or similar nearby airports for expanding in Metroplex Area makes sense too since DAL is maxed out

    1. The problem is DFW is pretty much maxed out also. They have been talking about building a new Terminal F, but those plans were tabled during the pandemic.

    2. I might add, that Frontier is returning to MDW. This was pre-merger announcement.

      At ORD Frontier operates out of T5-Concourse M (All Flights) & Spirit operates out of T3-Concourse L (Domestic) and T5-Concourse M (International Arrivals Only)

  4. This part of LAX,s plan was quite interesting.

    In 1967, a new Master Plan, developed by the Department of Airports, again working with the architectural and planning firm, William Pereira & Associates, was released.

    With growing passenger demand, terminal improvements were already being planned to accommodate the growing appetite for air-travel.

    The Master Plan also sought to relieve traffic pressure at LAX by building small localized metroports throughout the urban areas of Southern California. LAX and these metroports would be interconnected through large people moving modular helicopters or short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. An article on this subject is forthcoming.

    The Master Plan proposed that the West Terminal and Terminal 1 landside and processing functions such as check-in, security, bag-claim, concessions, roadways, curbfronts and parking would be placed under the aircraft parking. The concept being that passengers, in the most car-centric city in the United States, would be able to park their cars directly under the aircraft they were going to take and take vertical circulation practically from the parking garage to the aircraft. The gates would be able to accept widebody, narrowbody or supersonic transports. This configuration would allow the airport to maximize the airfield, ensuring more space for aircraft movement or parking, literally burying the passenger processing problem. A change in how airport security was handled would radically end concepts that enabled direct car to plane transfers. A spate of aircraft hijackings in the 60s and early 70s led the FAA on January 5, 1973 to mandate security checks on every passenger with metal detectors and x-ray machines for carry-on bags. This meant that the flow of passengers in a terminal had to separated between screened and un-screened passengers. Many terminal plans either had to be completely revised or were invalidated altogether. Should the concept of parking cars under the aircraft apron make an appearance today, it would also face the heightened security rules imposed after 9/11 requiring safety buffers from public vehicle parking, terminals, and aircraft.

    It was also during this period, in the late 60s and early 70s that supersonic transport (SST) aircraft were promised to be the next evolutionary step in commercial air service. Planning for terminals included SSTs in their design, though the only US airport that saw sustained limited SST service with the Concorde was New York JFK.

    This was a time where we believed we could do anything no matter how fanciful. Now everything is NIMBY driven as the slightest wrong move results in a barrage of lawsuits real or astroturfed.

  5. How many Bjorns does it take to make up a business plan that consists of setting large bales of cash on fire? Three, apparently.

    Seriously, this particular Bjorn was really blowing smoke up that reporter’s nether regions, especially about their supposed uniqueness. This has got “epic failure” written all over it. They’re stating they won’t be a hub-and-spoke operation, but I’m not convinced there’s huge untapped demand for market stimulation from the US to Oslo. Maybe from Oslo to the US? If so, it won’t be to bloody Stewart – airlines really need to get through their heads that until/unless a reasonable speedy service is installed between Stewart and NYC, it’s not really a gateway to NYC, PANYNJ pipe dreams notwithstanding. (I see Play* is making the same…well, play.

    I wish them luck, but I don’t see this working.

    * – I refuse to participate in stupid capitalization or the lack thereof. It’s “Play”, “Level”, and “Aha”. No weird punctuation either, Aha – your name is too stupid already.

    1. Here’s a thought for Norse (and Play too): with TUI having decamped to Melbourne for some reason I don’t understand (but probably involves a rather large check), perhaps consider Orlando Sanford?

  6. From a playbook perspective, I’d expect DFW to be WN’s next Metroplex airport, given IAH, ORD, and MIA. From a passenger options perspective, Meacham or FWA would make more sense, and give Southwest another exclusive airport. Either way, I doubt they’ll add another airport east of DFW in the Metroplex, given where the people are.

    1. Why not both DFW and a Fort Worth airport? At most WN would get 3-4 gates at DFW. Design an operation there to capture high-yielding inbound traffic. There are plent of out-of-towners that know only DFW. Then WN could do something truly unique at one of the Fort Worth airports. Let’s say a 10 gate terminal to start. WN could build, own, and operate the facility. Everything from parkingto airport hotels to concessions, similar to the “entertainment districts” that have popped up around the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves stadiums. I’m sure the entities that run those airports wold love to extend a long term lease for the land, knowing that it would bring businesses to the area.

      1. I’m not sure it will happen, but I like your idea.

        Not sure if there’d be much space for a pax terminal buildout there, but it’s worth pointing out that Meacham is only 2 miles from the Fort Worth Stockyards, which is a significant tourist/entertainment center on the west side of the Metroplex.

  7. I can’t see the image of the week… It’s just loading a grayed out “do not enter” sign.

    1. Dial H – It’s weird, you aren’t the first person to say that, but I see it just fine. I’ve gone and reuploaded so hopefully that helps.

  8. Its going to be TKI in McKinney. Been saying it for years with the 5 party agreement expiring in 2025. Possible for some service out of DFW but the Northeast Metroplex is a HUGE market that could be easily served out of TKI.

  9. Don’t mean to be pedantic, but that ramen isn’t likely “tonkatsu” ramen, but “tonkotsu” ramen.
    “Tonkatsu” is fried pork cutlet and “tonkotsu” means “pork bones”. True, oddly enough “tonkatsu ramen” exists, but from seeing that photo, that isn’t tonkatsu ramen.

  10. I would see TKI getting service before AFW or FTW. There is a large population base in Collin County, and it can also serve the Sherman area. This area is harder to access from DFW than most of Fort Worth.

    I can see them flying to places like Nashville, Orlando, Midway, and Baltimore. I could also see Alleigant or some other ULCC joining in and offering service there also.

    1. The middle-class+ suburbs seem to have been continuously growing on the northside of the Metroplex for years, so TKI might make sense from that angle, especially for a few leisure-focused routes, or for an airline like Allegiant… Given some of the companies with large operations in the North Dallas burbs like Plano, there may even be some appeal for business destinations.

      The catchment area of an operation at TKI would be interesting, though… I’m not sure that it would have much appeal for those living close to Dallas & Fort Worth unless fares were low and/or routes unique, but to your point, that might not be necessary. The DFW metroplex is large in both area and population, so there may be some good roles for other airports.

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