Many, if not most, of you have either read or heard of Spencer Johnson's best-selling book, Who Moved My Cheese? which examines, in parable form, living in (and adapting to) a rapidly-changing environment. Well, the airline industry may just be the poster child of quick and constant change, and at Southwest we've become so used to changes that using the phrase "moving my cheese" has become a metaphor understood throughout our Company for going through transformation of one sort or another.
I've blogged before about how optimization technology has allowed Schedule Planning to make much bigger changes to our network than in the past, and for Summer 2008, Southwest is moving our schedule's "cheese" like never before. Gary Kelly, our CEO, has been very up-front about our need to strategically change our flight offerings to better reflect changing demand in this period of uncertain economic conditions, and our Summer 2008 Schedule is clearly reflective of that need (yes, Gary, we listened!). In all, we've changed the number of nonstop flights in 81 roundtrip markets– increasing (or beginning!) nonstop service in 30 markets, and reducing service in 51 markets. This represents the largest single schedule change, at least in the number of markets impacted, in Southwest history. In fact, for the first time, we are able to make seasonal frequency changes to better match our schedule with Summer demand, so some of these flight increases (or decreases) will be re-adjusted once the leaves start changing colors in the Autumn. However, unlike in previous significant frequency changes, Southwest is not completely eliminating nonstop service in any single market–instead, these changes are far more surgical, for the most part only changing by one or two departures each day.
The increases are far more interesting–and, of course, a lot more fun to talk about. You could say the list of new markets we will be entering is, ahem, a "Mile High!" The new markets we'll be adding in this schedule can be summed up in one wordÃ¢â‚¬¦.DENVER! During the Summer 2008, Southwest will add brand-new nonstop service between Denver and SIX more destinations–Los Angeles (LAX), San Jose, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Raleigh/Durham, and San Antonio. We'll also add extra flights between Denver and Austin, Albuquerque, and Chicago. After these increases are in place, Southwest will offer 79 daily departures from Denver International Airport every business day–making it the 15th busiest Station of the 64 airports served on the Southwest Airlines network. Not too shabby for a destination we just started (or, as it were, re-started!) two years ago!
Besides all other changes coming this Summer, we've got a number of other schedule improvements that will roll out in May '08–most of them designed to deliver better ontime performance and to enhance overall efficiency and profitability. We've been really, really busy moving our cheeseÃ¢â‚¬¦.so whether you like cheddar, jack, or gorgonzola, we hope you'll really like flying around the Southwest Airlines system this coming summer. We'll keep you–and your cheese–moving!