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Today, Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways open our schedules from March 9 through April 12, 2013.  This covers the PEAK of Spring Break vacation season as well as both Easter and Passover.  It’s going to be a busy time—and we have some fun changes to talk about!

Conversion from AirTran to Southwest continues steadily.  Biggest news in this new schedule is:  BRANSON!  We’re converting Branson, Missouri, from AirTran to Southwest service on March 9, and we’re shuffling the operational deck there to maximize service in markets with lots of local travelers as well as enhance connectivity to the Southwest network.  We’ll go into Branson with daily nonstops to Dallas, Chicago Midway, and Houston Hobby, as well as weekly Saturday service between Branson and Orlando.  Adding direct and connecting flights, we’ll offer service between Branson and 67 Southwest cities!  With the conversion, we’ll eliminate AirTran’s daily nonstops between Branson and Atlanta and convert their Orlando weekly flight to Southwest, yet overall we’ll be nearly tripling the number of weekly seats to and from the “Live Music Show Capital of the World.”  And there’s LOTS more for all ages to do in Branson than music—boating on beautiful Table Rock Lake, enjoying the Silver Dollar City amusement park, excellent value-centered “retail therapy,” and a whole host of other attractions.  GREAT destination—make plans now to visit!

We’ve been busy “twisting the dials” on our schedule optimization engine to take advantage of the expected March traffic shifts, be they permanent or seasonal, and it’s produced some significant changes.  For starters, we’re re-engineering Southwest’s schedule at Newark by eliminating three daily Newark-Baltimore/Washington roundtrips and, instead, adding daily nonstop service between Newark and both Austin and New Orleans, and twice daily nonstop service between Newark and Nashville.  We’ll also increase our presence at two new “conversion” airports, with the addition of seasonal Southwest service between Dayton and Orlando and first-ever service between Key West and New Orleans (bet that one will be rocking around Mardi Gras!).  In addition, nonstop service between New York LaGuardia and Milwaukee and between Columbus and Tampa Bay will transition from AirTran to Southwest service. 

Seasonally we’re going to reinstate nonstop Southwest service between Panama City Beach and St. Louis, between Albuquerque and Portland, between Jacksonville and La$ Vega$, and between Phoenix and Raleigh-Durham.   On Saturdays, we’ll add nonstop service between Cleveland and Orlando, between Cleveland and Ft. Myers, between Detroit and Orlando, between Chicago Midway and West Palm Beach, and between San Diego and St. Louis.

AirTran is adding new markets as well. We’ll supplement existing Southwest service with AirTran flights between Orlando and Houston Hobby, New Orleans, and Raleigh-Durham. We’ll also add new AirTran seasonal roundtrips between Buffalo and Ft. Myers, and between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.

Of course, like all new base schedules, the entire deck is re-shuffled, taking seasonal weather and wind changes into account.  You can find all of our new schedules on, and you can look forward to a couple of “behind-the-scenes” blog posts from me over the next couple of weeks about what we go through to create the Southwest and AirTran schedules—and why they sometimes look a bit odd!  Have a great week, everyone.  Book those Spring Break excursions now, and meet me back here soon!

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