Southwest Secures Long Beach Slots, Adds Three Routes
Southwest Airlines is further increasing its footprint at Long Beach Airport (LGB) in California, where it is already the dominant carrier following the exit of JetBlue Airways in 2020.
Three new routes are being added to the airline’s schedule during the summer 2023 season, on top of two new services that have already been announced.
Nonstop flights to Albuquerque (ABQ), Colorado Springs (COS) and El Paso (ELP) will be launched, alongside the return of seasonal service to Maui (OGG). Southwest previously announced plans to open routes from Long Beach to Kansas City (MCI) and Orlando (MCO) later this year.
The latest additions come after the Dallas-based carrier secured five supplemental flight slots at Long Beach, allowing it to offer up to 45 daily departures.
In December, it was confirmed that five more daily flights would be permitted at the airport after it was determined noise levels were below what is allowed under the facility’s strict noise ordinance.
To preserve the grandfathered status of Long Beach’s noise ordinance, additional flight slots must be allocated if a sufficient amount of remaining unused noise budget exists, such that the noise budget would not be exceeded by increasing the number of flight slots.
Airport flight slots are awarded based on a waiting list of official requests from current LGB airlines that have expressed interest in additional service, as well as new entrants interested in starting flights at the airport. Four carriers are currently listed on the waiting list for supplemental flight slots, but Southwest was the only one that requested slots for this opportunity.
Southwest’s daily seasonal flight to Maui will resume on March 9, while service to Colorado Springs and El Paso will begin on July 11. The new route to Albuquerque will start on Sept. 5 and Dallas Love Field (DAL) will rise to 2X-daily on Sunday through Friday from June 4.
The airline earlier announced plans for new daily service to Kansas City from March 9 and a Saturday-only flight to Orlando from July 15 using Boeing 737 aircraft.
With the latest network announcement, airlines at Long Beach will now offer nonstop flights to 22 destinations in the U.S., which is more than at any time in LGB’s nearly 100-year history. The previous record was 19 nonstop destinations in 2011.
The addition of the five supplemental slots also means the airport has 41 permanent and 17 supplemental flight slots, for a total of 58. Southwest currently holds 45 slots, Delta Air Lines holds seven, Hawaiian Airlines holds two and American Airlines—which is ceasing operations at LGB but has not yet relinquished its slots—holds three.
During February 2023, data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that Southwest has an 87.2% share of all departure seats from LGB—up from about 33% at this time three years ago when JetBlue controlled around 53% of the market. However, JetBlue exited the airport in October 2020.
Elsewhere, Hawaiian has a 5.9% capacity share at Long Beach at the present time, Delta has 3.4% and American has 3.6%. American currently serves Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) up to 3X-daily but flights are scheduled to end on Feb. 28.
Alongside the LGB expansion, Southwest also said it is launching seasonal service between Austin-Bergstrom (AUS) and Jacksonville (JAX), and between El Paso and Orlando. The routes will operate from Sept. 9.