Southwest Airlines Focuses On Increasing Flight Frequencies

Credit: Joe Pries

Southwest Airlines’ summer season schedule, released April 12, is weighted toward adding frequencies on existing routes over launching new routes.

Dallas-based Southwest revealed only three new routes for the summer. From June 5, the carrier will launch daily service between Eugene (EUG) in Oregon and San Jose (SJC) in California, and between California cities Sacramento (SMF and Santa Barbara (SBA). SBA previously announced the new route to SMF.

Additionally, on the same date, Southwest will launch a new route on its inter-island Hawaii service: Lihue (LIH)-Maui (OGG).

But most of Southwest’s summer plans are driven by the airline’s desire to add “depth” to its “spider web” network, as CFO Tammy Romo has said.

Frequencies are being ramped up. From June 5, Southwest will operate from San Diego (SAN) to SMF and SJC up to 20X-daily on each route. It will fly between SAN and Oakland (OAK) in California up to 14X-daily.

Starting June 5 from SJC, Southwest will fly 2X-daily to Bosie (BOI) in Idaho; up to 13X-daily to Las Vegas (LAS); up to 4X-daily to Long Beach (LGB) and up to 10X-daily to Orange County (SNA), both in California; 6X-daily to Portland (PDX) in Oregon; and 6X-daily service to Seattle (SEA) and 2X-daily service to Spokane (GEG), both in Washington state.

Additionally, Southwest is increasing frequencies on its Fort Lauderdale (FLL)-Havana (HAV) route from daily to 3X-daily from May 4. Southwest is an all-Boeing 737 operator.

A Southwest spokesperson told Routes the airline is “in a restoring-our-network phase of pandemic-era recovery,” adding: “Southwest is dedicating aircraft time to depth in existing markets. This not only addresses the … coming return of corporate and managed/business travel, but also is reflective of our plan to [operate] an amount of service that [matches] overall demand, and enhances our ability to serve consumers with additional times-of-day, more frequencies and seats.”

Southwest is projecting its second-quarter capacity to be down 7% versus the 2019 March quarter, a slight improvement over the first quarter, for which capacity was expected to be down 9-10% compared to the same period in 2019. The carrier’s second-half 2022 capacity will be roughly flat versus the second half of 2019. For the full year, Southwest’s capacity is anticipated to be down 4% compared to 2019.

The airline has cited staffing shortages to explain why it is falling short of a prior goal to operate 100% of 2019 capacity this year.

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp is a Contributing Editor to the Aviation Week Network.