MIAMI — Southwest Airlines announced new routes from Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC on Monday. It also shared the new route frequencies for its post-Wright Amendment Dallas Love Field operations, and announced two “new” international routes.
Washington Reagan will see new service to Akron/Canton and Indianapolis, on November 2, 2014. The two will join twelve other cities that will see service from the coveted DC airport, which will increase the carrier’s presence from 17 daily flights to 44 by the end of the year.
Separately, the airline is also planning to expand Washington Dulles operations to include nonstops to Las Vegas and San Diego. The moves will pit Southwest against United on both, and against Frontier in Vegas. Frontier announced the route to Sin City only last week.
Dallas will see fifteen nonstop flights added into the system, split between start dates of October 13th and November 2nd. The carrier will add Baltimore/Washington, Chicago Midway, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles LAX, Orlando MCO, and Washington Reagan in October. Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Nashville, New York LaGuardia, Phoenix, San Diego, Orange County, and Tampa Bay will begin in November (see table at the end of the story for details). The carrier announced the cities back in January. Once complete, the carrier will operate a total of 149 flights from the airfield daily.
Of particular note, the carrier simultaneously launched a massive fare sale, making good on a promise from CEO Gary Kelly to reduce fares in the D/FW metro area. No doubt the fares, which go as low as $79 one way, are also aimed at putting pressure on Love Field’s newest occupant, Virgin America. The posh premium carrier is set to begin a new focus city with two gates at the airport in October. Nearby, at Dallas/Ft. Worth airport, heavy-weight American Airlines has already responded by matching fares in some markets.
Turning to the international routes, the airline will begin service from San Antonio and Santa Ana to Mexico City along with Baltimore/Washington and Chicago Midway to Punta Cana, D.R. Calling them “new” is not entirely accurate, however. The routes are currently operated by Southwest subsidiary Air Tran, leaving them to merely be converted to Southwest branded airplanes, along with several other routes on November 2nd. The two are the last to face rebranding. The carrier is not expected to open “new” international routes until 2015. Related, Southwest shared that it will fully absorb Air Tran on December 28th, flying from Atlanta to Tampa Bay.
The changes do come at a cost, however. In order to support the Dallas expansion in particular, Southwest is cutting routes from several other cities, many of which supported the carrier during the height of the Wright Amendment days. The restrictive law allowed non-stop service to only a small handful of neighboring states from Dallas, which functionally set up cities such as Houston and Albuquerque as unintentional connecting hubs for flights onward for years.
The latter will see a reduction of three flights per day to Dallas alone, along with service that would’ve connected through, such as to Seattle. Other cities on the reduction list include service to Austin, Houston, and Kansas City. The cities have been anticipating reductions since the repeal of the distance-provision of the Amendment was agreed to be lifted in October of this year.
Beginning October 13:
Chicago Midway x5 – increase to x6 on 11/2
Las Vegas x3 – increase to x4 on 11/2
Los Angeles LAX x3 – increase to x4 on 11/2
Orlando MCO x2 – increase to x3 on 11/2
Washington Reagan x3 – increase to x6 on 11/2
Beginning November 2:
Fort Lauderdale x2
New York LaGuardia x3
San Diego x2
Santa Ana x1
Tampa Bay x2
From Washington Reagan
Baltimore/Washington to Punta Cana
Chicago Midway to Punta Cana
San Antonio to Mexico City
Santa Ana to Mexico City