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Southwest Airlines Community

Rebuilding New Orleans

Bill
Employee
Employee
As we approach the first anniversary of the horrible destruction wrought on the New Orleans area by Hurricane Katrina, I thought a bit of celebration might be in order. Along with all of Southwest Airlines, as well as the entire human community, I celebrate the spirit of survival that so many in New Orleans and all of the Gulf Coast displayed through their ordeal.  Despite their tribulations the fact that so many survived is a miracle of astonishing proportions. I celebrate the progress that the City of New Orleans has made in just one year since such a cataclysmic event.  It is truly amazing that so much damage and destruction has been addressed in one short year.  It is also jarringly sobering that so much remains to be done–so to that end, I celebrate the Spirit of the City of New Orleans and hope that it can rebuild all that was lost in the storm–better and safer than ever. I celebrate with deeply abiding LUV what the Employees of Southwest Airlines in New Orleans have accomplished in this year.  They have wonderfully, and faithfully, served our Customers on a reduced flight schedule and reduced headcount, yet still turned in incredible, Positively Outrageous Service.  Through periods of under-staffing, facility reconstruction, and changes in Leadership, they have displayed the ownership and Southwest Spirit that has made ours an amazingly successful Company.   They accomplished this amazing feat while rebuilding their own lives.   The word "dedication" simply pales. Finally, I celebrate how far Southwest has come in restoring our previous level of service to Louis Armstrong New Orleans Int'l Airport.  Prior to the storm, we offered 57 nonstop departures each day to 17 airports across the country.  As Katrina was bearing down on the Big Easy, we waited as long as safely possible to shut down our operation, and our last departure from the airport was a ferry flight full of Employees evacuating from what was at that point a Category 5 storm.  We were not able to resume our operations there for over a month. Our initial return to the city was only two departures a day to Houston Hobby on October 17th, 2005 (my 47th birthday!)–but we've built back up much of our service since then.  We're now operating 24 departures daily to 10 Southwest destinations.  That will increase to 26 departures a day by the end of 2006, and we have every hope and aspiration to continue to rebuild our presence in New Orleans in 2007 as conditions continue to improve. This event, in so many ways, is unprecedented in our history–in the history of Southwest Airlines, the history of the Gulf Coast, and the history of our nation.  We've never seen a city, particularly one heavily dependent on tourism for its livelihood, decimated.   So, at the one-year anniversary of the arrival of Katrina, I hope we all take a moment to breathe–reflect–and celebrate those who were lost….those who survived….all that was destroyed….all that has been, and will be rebuilt….and what we all can accomplish when we come together as a family with a common goal. Thank you, New Orleans, for what you've given us in the past, and what you give us now.  And, the best is yet to come.  As y'all say down there…..Lasseiz Le Bon Temps Rouler!  
22 Comments
Lee_Saxon
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I hope you guys are planning to re-open the New Orleans - Birmingham - Nashville - Chicago/Baltimore line soon. It really sucks to fly west to Houston, sit in an airport for four hours, and then fly back easty to Birmingham when the trip used to take 50 minutes.
Angela_Fernande
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Wow! That is they only word I can find to describe the determination and strength of the citizens of New Orleans. As for the the employees of SWA who call MSY home our hearts remain with you. MSY never forget your warrior spirit! Long live SWA!
Mary23
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What a great article. What a nice change to recognize that a lot has been done in New Orleans and that the city can not be rebuilt in a single year. I am sure, that living and working in a city that is being rebuilt most be a great challenge so my hats off to all who do.
Nicole_LeBlanc
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Slow, slow rebuild of sked and % of seats compared to other airlines. I have been loyal to Southwest (2 or 3x a month DAL-MSY) but could have flown more cheaply, more frequently and more conveniently on the competition. Friends who used to fly monthly to Birmingham and Dallas have been driving. Y'all need to catch up in order not to lose any more business permanently. i fear the 2 other TX-based airlines have cut into your HOU and DAL business in a big way as they have brought back flights and seats much faster than SWA. You can still claim to be the biggest carrier at MSY, but not nearly by the margin you used to be. Come on!!!!!! Can't say it enough though, the MSY team rules. Time to build up the sked and recall some more agents!
Derek_Penton
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Great article! I second the sentiment expressed by the first comment posted above -- start the direct flights between Birmingham and New Orleans again SOON! Flying an hour from Birmingham to Houston, waiting four hours in Houston, and then flying another 45 minutes to New Orleans (and doing the reverse hokey pokey on the way back) is really less than pleasant, when prior to the hurricanes over a year ago, the direct flight took right at 50 minutes, each way. In 5 hours and 45 minutes, I could DRIVE to/from New Orleans (although having to drive would definitely put a cramp in the enjoyment index). And the thing is -- the direct flights between Birmingham and New Orleasns were ALWAYS full, even when the flight was not for a special event like Mardi Gras. Granted, that passenger load included travelers from further up the route, but the number of people getting on the plane in Birmingham was alway pretty significant.
Charlie
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Ditto on the comments above from about flights from New Orleans to Birmingham!!! We have driven several times lately as it is quicker than getting a connection through Houston! Please add this back to your schedule soon!
Teresa7
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I also need direct flights from MSY-BHM asap!!!!I have been driving because it is the same time as flying, between flight times to either houston or tampa to Bham, including sit times at airports, especially in the evenings b/c of flight delays elsewhere. Where is the faith of Southwest in the rebuilding of New Orleans????? COME ON!!!! Mardi Gras is around the corner as well as the height of the tourist season. New Orleans has come back, especially for the tourists and certainly for business. PLEASE---put back your direct flights to and from BHM to MSY!!!!
KB1
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Can someone from Southwest comment?
KB1
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All - I just heard that Express Jet has plans to start a new flight in May from Birmingham to New Orleans - direct. Just wanted to pass that on. KB
Bill_Kammer
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How about bringing back the nonstops from the West Coast, but specifically SAN-MSY? This always seemed a popular flight and I used to make about five trips a year.
Scott5
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It's time to bring back to non-stop to Birmingham. The New Orleans team has earned it. Don't let ExpressJet have this without a fight.
Kirk_Edmunds
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SouthWest, It's time to bring back the Birmingham to New Orleans and New Orleans to Birmingham Non-Stop flights. I think the people in both Birmingham and New Orleans have waited long enough (1.5 years). I'ts a shame to hear rumors that there just isn't a market out there for these flights anymore when I know that prior to Katrina, every Monday morning the B'ham to New Orleans flight was booked solid. If you are using any market studies showing the number of people flying from Birmingham to New Orleans now, that study is skewed... Because most of us are driving the 325+ miles each way because it is faster driving it than flying to Houston, sitting for hours, then flying into New Orleans. Please help us rebuild New Orleans by allowing us to get back to New Orleans in an hour each way, not 5 or 6 hours each way.
KB
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I couldnt agree with you more Kirk. We are just going to have to leave Southwest and spend our money elsewhere.
Dexter
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I'm very disappointed with Southwest not returning any direct routes between BHM and MSY since Katrina. Thankfully, ExpressJet http://www.xjet.com , will begin direct flights in Mid-May at very competive prices.... and their jets have no middle seats. Buh-bye Southwest.....
Rick26
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Why won't someone from SouthWest comment on this request to reopen the BHm-MSY route? I too will use Express Jet once they open.
Ryan5
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It seems to me that WN has made the slowest come back of all the airlines in MSY. Theyre only operating about half of what they had, and that is why the numbers are so low in our airport. I along with many others have taken my business to other airlines. So long Southwest.
paul_lea
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I want my direct flight to Birmingham BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
paul_lea
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I guess its ExpressJet for me!....at least someone is reacting to the market
Anonymous487
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Dirty move Southwest. Ignore the people of New Orleans and show no interest in resuming MSY-BHM service until a classy little carrier (ExpressJet) does it... and does it well. Suddenly MSY is a big priority and MSY-BHM comes back. Guess y'all are going to try to run them out of the market.. Southwest can drop the fares, but I'm staying with your competition. Without ExpressJet's service to BHM, you guys probably wouldn't have resumed the route at all.
Evan4
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I took express jet from msy to bhm and had a FULL course meal i only paid 76 bucks for my ticket. Then the flight attendant came will dessert i was shocked!!!!!
Tim_McCarthy
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Three cheers...I've always supported Southwest's commitment to its customers. I hope they can keep up the humor and good service.
Anonymous285
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Ditto on resuming SAN-MSY. I do this trip at least once a month and I always have others on the flight that are making all the connections.