MIAMI – Southwest Airlines (WN) is adding new routes from Austin (AUS), which appears to be in response to American Airlines’ (AA) recent Austin expansion.

American Airlines announced a handful of new routes from Austin two weeks ago, which included destinations such as New Orleans (MSY), Aspen (ASE), Destin/Fort Walton Beach (VPS), and more. This was a notable move as AA shifts towards adding more nonstops to cater towards customers in growing cities, rather than expanding from its existing hubs.

Of the 10 new Austin routes American recently announced, Southwest already directly competes on 7 of them: Nashville (BNA), Las Vegas (LAS), Orlando (MCO), New Orleans, Raleigh/Durham (RDU), Tampa (TPA), and Los Cabos (SJD). AA added service from Austin to Washington Dulles (IAD) while WN already serves Austin to Washington National (DCA)

Today, Southwest has added two new routes out of Austin which could come across as a defensive measure against AA’s recent expansion.

Southwest Airlines N938WN Boeing 737-700 | Photo: Luke Ayers/Airways

Southwest Aims For Florida

According to Ishrion Aviation, Southwest will begin daily flights between Austin and Miami (MIA) starting June 6, 2021. The carrier launched flights to Miami in late 2020 and has since grown with several new destinations from the airport, such as Dallas (DAL), St. Louis (STL), and now Austin.

American Airlines has a major hub in Miami, and has served the Austin to Miami route for several years. WN continues to encroach on AA’s Miami hub while continuing to serve the nearby Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL).

Southwest Airlines will also begin twice-weekly service from Austin to Destin/Fort Walton Beach, operating on Saturdays and Sundays starting June 6, 2021. Notably, AA just added this route two weeks ago and is set to launch it on June 5, one day before Southwest. While WN will operate Austin to Destin/Fort Walton Beach twice a week with the Boeing 737, AA has scheduled a Saturday-only Embraer 175.

Southwest Airlines is evidently prepared fortify its presence in Austin and retaliate against AA. With domestic travel expected to be strong this summer, especially to key destinations such as Florida, this represents a strategical move for WN in capturing a greater market share for certain routes.

Featured Image: Southwest Airlines N8728Q Boeing 737-8H4. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways