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SAN FRANCISCO...OPEN YOUR GOLDEN GATE!

Bill
Employee
Employee
At the distinct risk of turning the Southwest Airlines blog in to a BILL-log (three blog posts from me in two weeks is bordering on overkill, I realize!)...there is news to share!  Southwest is returning to San Francisco International Airport early this fall!  This news was announced last night (February 😎 by our CEO, Gary Kelly, at the Message to The Field in Oakland.  We've been working on this for a while now, and we just couldn't be more excited to bring Canyon Blue back to the west side of the Bay.  Why go back to an airport we discontinued?   Easy answer.  Things change, and Southwest responds to changes!  If you need proof of that, look at Denver, another city Southwest served, then discontinued--then started again, in response to changing conditions.  In Denver's case, it was dramatically improved costs at the new airport, in combination with explosive growth in the local market.  In SFO's case, costs again play a central role--the good people that run San Francisco International have done a great job in mitigating costs and keeping them low, and everyone knows costs are a key focus at Southwest.  But it's not just about the costs this time--other good things have happened to make us reconsider serving SFO.  Operationally, the airport is in significantly better shape than it was in 2001, which means we'll be able to run a much "cleaner" and more ontime operation than we did then.  BART now goes directly into the airport, which means West Bay residents and visitors can get right into the heart of the City by the Bay in just "one seat."  We now have the ability to grow at SFO, whereas before we no way to expand beyond our 14 daily flights.  And, the Bay Area's population just continues to grow by leaps and bounds--all of which makes our return to the busiest airport in the region a no-brainer. What does this do to our service at Oakland and San Jose?  Three word answer:  makes them stronger.  By serving the Bay Area more completely, we make Southwest more convenient to Customers flying to or from the area.  As California's largest intrastate carrier, offering more options for the traveling public just makes our entire Bay Area franchise even more viable.  Now this is nothing new--Southwest has always persued a "serve the region" strategy in population-dense areas where airports aren't restricted.  Just look at Southern California--we serve four airports just in the Los Angeles area alone.  In the DC area we're now in both BWI and Dulles.  And in South Florida we're in both Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood and West Palm Beach. I can't tell you where we'll be flying from SFO just yet, but trust me, you're going to like this.  We're BACK, West Bay!  And a quick trivia question:  Am I the only person on this planet that remembers the T.V. series. "San Francisco International Airport" from the '70s, starring Lloyd Bridges?  Heck, they're remaking everything these days--maybe there could be a reality T.V. show based on Southwest Airlines and our awesome Employees working at a major international airport! On second thought...never mind about the T.V. show.  Been there, done that. Happy Valentines Day, everyone! As Bill mentions, we do sometimes announce news at a Message To The Field.  For more information on the Messages, read James's post immediately below and Shelley's post about the preparations for the Message season.
48 Comments
BLD
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What next? MIA, JFK, and ORD? Just kidding of course! I suppose the ATC delays in SFO are no worse than LAX and PHL, plus you guys need to go where the passengers and associated revenue are. Considering that SFO is still not immune from ATC delays, will you place any slack or buffer time in the schedule time to account for possible delays? Our office runs a lot of corporate clients through SFO, so I know the delays are still around to a certain extent, though IÃ
Greg5
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how about IAD -SFO? cause i can't figure out what ceo mr. kelly is doing with IAD?
Matt
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We weren't expecting to announce a city in 2007. I wonder if Virgin America's attempt to fly out of SFO has anything to do with this announcement? 🙂
Dennis4
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"persued" "pursued" "pirsued"--Hmmn--now which is it? 😉
o1ive12
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I think it's funny that the press releases and post here on the blog refers to the Peninsula as the "west bay". San Francisco is "The City" and it is on the Peninsula! I think it's great that Southwest is making it's presence in SFO again! It sure will be better for all travellers!
Rob14
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Why is it that SWA can find enough planes to add flights to SFO but after nearly a year and a half has not restored the direct flights between Birmingham and New Orleans? SWA continues to give lip service to saying they care about customers and are committed to helping New Orleans, but the actions prove otherwise.
Micah1
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I find this fascinating. Are times really changing? It seems like Southwest is starting to serve every city in a metropolitan area, contrary to its past. Does this signal the possibility of Southwest beginning service to Boston-BOS, Chicago-ORD, Dallas/Ft Worth-DFW, Houston-IAH, Miami-MIA, or New York-EWR, JFK, or LGA? After glancing at a few statistics, I do see a need for Southwest at San Francisco. The average fare between San Francisco and Los Angeles is currently $157.80, a sharp contrast with the average fare between Oakland and Los Angeles--$106.70. And there are 2,117 passengers daily on that route. I can see some profits there. Same thing with the San Francisco-San Diego route. The average fare between San Diego and San Francisco is $177.41 and the average fare between Oakland and San Francisco is $116.05. And there are 840 daily passengers on that route (statistics came from the Department of Transportation for the second quarter of 2006, the latest for which data is available). I recently read an article in the Cincinnati Inquirer which said that the five airports in the United States with the most expensive average fares are Charleston, South Carolina; Cincinnati, Ohio; Huntsville, Alabama; Knoxville, Tennessee (NO DOUBT); and San Francisco, California. But the average fare between San Francisco and Phoenix and Las Vegas is within $5 of the average fares between Oakland and Phoenix and Las Vegas. Wouldn't the extra costs and the extra wait time for take-off quickly at San Francisco quickly make up that cost? By the way, Bill, I am in highschool and my dream is to work at Southwest's headquarters. Your job seems fascinating. What majors/colleges would you recommend? Southern Methodist University seems attractive since it is so close to Dallas Love Field. I would enjoy working with Southwest (such as a check-in or ramp agent) while I attend college.
Francisco_Delga1
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Welcome back to SFO. I am sure you guys thought this through. There were so many other cities to choose from, cities that are starving for your service. Well i hope you are successful in SFO. Please offer I direct flight from ABQ..... You guys still won't offer non-stop flights from ABQ TO DEN.. Why???????????????????????????????????
Gary_Hundley
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Its great that SWA is open enough to "re-discover" cities that we once serviced. Perhaps there will be additional existing and new cites that will "fit" with SFO while adding to the route map!
Jen_E
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Great news! Now, let's work on EWR or ACY (I know, they are considered PHL markets, but your examples show you can support more than one in each area).
Drew1
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Rob, Let me get this straight. Southwest doesn't care about New Orleans or customers because they are (re)opening San Francisco instead of adding non-stop flights between Birmingham and New Orleans? That sounds more than a bit selfish. In nearly a year and half Southwest has restored access to/from New Orleans from nearly its entire network. That's hardly "lip service."
Matt
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For Rob: If the amount of tickets being sold support adding flights back into MSY then WN won't add the a/c when they can be used better in other markets. WN does support MSY but it is a business, after all.
Jeramy_Brian
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Rob, the reason why swa isn't adding more flights to New Orleans right now is the same reason why they don't fly to Casper Wyoming. They only add flights where the demand is. Until more people move back to msy, the airlines won't add flights...
Matt
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This is like one of the HOTTEST topics on Airliners.net: http://www.airliners.net/discussions/general_aviation/read.main/3248029/#menu129 People have an opinion either way!!! 🙂
Matt
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*1st post correction mean tot say "being sold doesn't support" not that i am upper management but i think that's just common sense!
Francisco_Delga1
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Rob, I think you have a honest point and i can see your fustration. However, like the previous writers explained it is all about supply and demand. I know Southwest has been kind to New Orleans and has gone above and beyond their call of duty. More flights will come when more people move back. Francisco
Micah1
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Rob, I am not the expert on the issue of Southwest commencing service between Birmingham and New Orleans. However, I will say that there are painfully few passengers flying that route today. According the Department of Transportation, only 33 passengers fly daily on that route (that was during the 2nd quarter of 2006, the latest date for which data is available). Compare that to only a year earlier, when 368 passengers flew daily between Birmingham and New Orleans. Furthermore, before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was a connecting destination for many Southwest Customers. For example, a Customer from Birmingham flying to San Diego could connect in New Orleans. Since New Orleans generates less traffic, it is impractical to offer nonstop flights to numerous destinations from there for Birmingham Customers to connect to. So there has been both a decline in nonstop Customers and connecting Customers. However, I assure you that the Folks at Southwest are keeping an eagle's eye on that route and are searching for an excuse to resume service. And there is a reason to remain optimistic: We all know that a nonstop flights and lower fares increase traffic. The nonstop flight is gone for now, and the average one-way fare has risen from $80.56 to $186.80 one-way. Restore the nonstop flight and discount the fare and Customers will flood to Southwest Airlines ticket counters. Furthermore, passengers from Louisville and St Louis traveling to New Orleans could connect in Birmingham adding passengers to New Orleans (Everyday, 57 passengers fly between Louisville and New Orleans and 140 passengers fly between St Louis and New Orleans). Furthermore, Southwest offered three flights one-way between Birmingham and New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. There is a good chance that traffic will soon rise enough to restore at least one of those flights. As far as I know, Southwest has done more than any other airline to stimulate growth at New Orleans. And it is people like you that are enthusiastic about supporting SouthwestÃ
BLD
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About MSY, I recently ready a news story about residents giving up hope in New Orleans and looking elsewhere for a future. As so many people have stated, WN is going to deploy their assets wherever they can get a good return on their investment. Once it makes good business sense, IÃ
Chris91
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Yipee!!! SWA is back at sfo! Why can't SWA fly from sfo sooner instead of late fall? Maybe, now I can fly more often and save enough money. Hope SWA have a direct flights from SFO to LAS & LAX.
Jeramy_Brian1
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Cool. Now I can fly to sfo and watch the dodgers beat up on the giants. They have a nice ball park but a very bad (and old) team. PS: Barry Bonds is a cheater! He doesen't deserve to break the home run record.
Al2
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Hopefully SWA will serve Burbank to SFO. United charges $225 round trip form Burbank to SFO. Southwest could give United a run for its money on this route.
Kristin2
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I'm so grateful that you're restoring service in and out of San Francisco -- what a huge time and cost-saver this will be for my husband and me, and for all of our friends in SF. The long distance to San Jose -- and the unpredictability of traveling over the Bay Bridge -- compromise the benefits of flying Southwest. I'll be an even more loyal passenger now! Also, nice job on the web redesign.
Anonymous777
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Some say that this is a pre-emptive strike against an airline which plans to start with its home base at SFO.
Anne10
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Congratulations to San Francisco, but when are you coming to the Twin Cities? We NEED Southwest here....or at least an alternative to Northwest. PLEASE come to MSP.
Greg5
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why open at SFO that last city they opened IAD they have not hardly expanded IAD . Was opening IAD a mistake for SWA?
Jesse3
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Welcome back! SFO-SNA would be a huge hit. American and United are really gouging on this route. There is huge commuter population on this route, but most of the traffic goes through OAK or SJC now.
Jeramy_Brian1
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Any plans for starting service between oak and sfo? The bart is getting very expensive...
Nona_Rogers
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Rob: I read your post and being a Southwest Employee in New Orleans, please know that I feel you pain. Considering the fact that I live and work here, I'd like to address some of the comments made by other bloggers. Matt D, Jeramy and Francisco, the demand for flights is here. For the year ending 2006, our load factor (percentage of filled seats) out of New Orleans was 79.34%. That's pretty high. For the month of January 2007, a notoriously slow month for the airline business, our load factor was 77.35%. That was the second highest in the system. Micah, even though we did have connecting Customers out of MSY, we were mainly a destination city. Our local Customers far outnumbered our connecting Customers. A lot of our business was not only tourists coming to the French Quarter, but Customer's coming to catch cruise ships and to attend conventions. The French Quarter was not damaged during the storm, three of the cruise ships have returned, and now that the convention center has been repaired, we are seeing the convention business returning. Unfortunately, many conventions are cancelling simply because the air service is not here. Furthermore, the majority of our Birmingham Customers pre-Katrina were in fact, traveling to the ATL area, not BHM, so even though your numbers are interesting, they're not a true reading. Brandon, please don't believe everything you read. The mis-reporting by the various news medias has been terrible. Our residents are frustrated, angry, and exasperated at the slow response of our government to make good on the aid they were promised, but it's only a small percentage who are giving up hope. What most of the rest of the country doesn't realize is the mind set of people from this area. They just don't leave, and if they do, they eventually come home. So, I hope I cleared up some misconceptions. And Rob, please don't give up on us. Hopefully, this will be the year. Nona/CSS Southwest Airlines
Anny1
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This is great news! Hopefully the fog doesn't delay the flights too much!
frankie_ninete
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More power the the best airline in the industry and by taking back SFO. However, i have observed that all other bay area cities served by my airline [i say this because i work for this great company] Oak, Bur, SJC etc. are mentioned except for one that also serves several of this cities non-stop. Are we forgetting Sacramento [SMF]. Oh by the way, thank God the Sea Lions, Seals, and seagulls are not being blame for delays-LUV U All
John_Gray
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It would be great if southwest flew SFO to PSP. Airfares are consistently high to PSP and there is significant and continued growing demand, particularlly in the non-summer months.
lynette1
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The day that Southwest could be a competitor for the Northern states for Northwest Airlines routes would be a great one. Your product, clean planes and caring upper executive tier of operation would definitly give the Northwest Executive team a run for the money. It would also be great if Southwest could be International some day and really treat passengers how they deserve to be treated when going overseas. I have worked for 3 airlines and I'm very impressed with Southwest! They have a great operation, staff and executive staff. Go Southwest!!
Kirk_Edmunds
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SouthWest, ItÃ
Liz_Wolf-Spada
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Please go from Ontario to SFO. We fly up to see my son in San Francisco frequently and until BART went directly to the airport, Oakland was the best way to go. There are NO direct flights to SFO from Ontario airport and I think the route would be well traveled. We are loyal Southwest customers and love that if our plans change we can change our flights easily and without incurring charges for doing so. You guys rock! (Plus we love your comedic routines on flights). Liz
Francisco_Delga1
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THIS IS IN REGARDS TO THE POST THAT NONA ROGERS WROTE... YOUR LOAD FACTORS ARE HIGH BECAUSE THERE ARE LESS FLIGHTS AND AS A RESULT MOST OF THOSE FLIGHTS ARE BOOKED SOLID. I CAN SEE THE FUSTRATION. PEOPLE ARE LEAVING NEW ORLEANS AND SETTING UP SHOP SOMEWERE ELSE. UNLESS THE LOCAL AND STATE GOVERNMENT CAN GET ITS ACT TOGETHER NEW ORLEANS WILL NEVER BE THE CITY IT ONCE WAS. SOUTHWEST NEEDS TO BE CAREFUL AND NOT EXPAND TOO FAST. FRANCISCO
Larry8
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HOOORAY PDX-SFO-International flights!!!!! Now if we could just get you to consider PDX-SEA . . .sigh This (not having to pay UA or Horizon fopr a connector) will save me more money than flying SWA domestically . .
Michael
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I fly between Denver and the Bay Area every week. Southwest nonstop flights between either Denver and Oakland, or between Denver and San Francisco would be a welcome invitation for loyalty from this commuter. Being a small businessman, a non-stop LUV connection from the Mountains to the Bay would be a welcome relief to my bottom line.
Miira
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Yea!!! As a Burlingame resident, I am two exits from SFO but frequently have to take SW out of Oakland or San Jose for business trips. Quite a pain if you have to ride the Bart for an hour to Oakland or drive for an hour south. So I for one am soooo excited! Love your non-stop routes and the fact you seem to be more on time than any other airlines that I have had the pleasure--or displeasure--of flying with. Y'all are so flexible and friendly and I believe that in the business of flying which is more and more painful by the year, you have made a positive difference! Keep it up! Thanks!
Greg5
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when should we expect city info for SFO? and do we know how many gates SWA is getting yet at SFO? by the way I heard a rumor that we will be expanding our newest city airports like washington dulles ect. and the already SWA cities this spring and summer?
John33
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Cincinnati (CVG) ? When? please ...when? Greater Cincinnati residents drive 100 miles to Louisville, Columbus, or Indianapolis to fly Southwest. We Love Southwest!! Delta has grossly overcharged us for many years. I'm retiring from the military after 28 years and I want to work for Southwest at the Greater Cincinnati Northen Kentucky International Airport (CVG). Awaiting your arrival.
Anonymous4064
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Southwest has only moved into 2 new airports in the past couple years. It would be nice to see them move into more markets such as Minneapolis. One airline has a monopoly on the gates there and people in Minnesota are tired of getting ripped off on airfare. Hopefully Southwest has or will look into this since Minneapolis is the 7th busiest airport in the U.S. Even if they only go to 2 or 3 hub cities to switch planes, people would still fly with Southwest to and from MSP. They are missing out on a lot of business.
Jeff_Miller
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I would love to see a southwest flight from SFO to GEG. Currently the OAK to GEG non-stop on friday night is always booked.
Jackie4
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Please please please open up the SFO-ONT route!! Flying SW would be SO much more pleasant than the frequent UA delayed flights that are the norm these days. I find myself checking the SW website constantly hoping to see that the routes are posted.
Tulane__11
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Enough about Birmingham to New Orleans, when is ANY bay area airport going to restore a direct flight to New Orleans. I'll wait for one flight, if it's out of any of the three airports. Yesterday it took me 10 hours of travel time, between lay overs and such, to get from New Orleans back to the bay area. any plans for direct flight re-instatement?
Judy_Grollmus
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We're hoping for direct flights from GEG to SFO! Since United cut out this service several years ago, no one has picked it up. They claimed too many empty seats, but a local investigating reporter found that the rate at that time was 76% full for an average, above the national average at that time. So please consider out fair city when you begin flights out of SFO. Since my daughter and her family live just 15 minutes from it, it would be wonderful for my husband and me. Thanks.
Michelle_Wetzle
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PLEASE add SFO to BUR and SFO to LAX! I fly OAK to BUR every week even though my commute to SFO is shorter. I know a lot of other people make the San Francisco to LA commute and many SFO commuters on other airlines would switch to southwest if they had these flights. I am going to switch to another airline if southwest doesn't add them. When your company pays for your flights, it is just not worth the time it takes to commute to OAK.
John_in_Cincinn
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Cincinnati (CVG) ? When? please Ã
Anonymous1957
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How about one way from Birmingham, AL to Palm Springs, CA, with out the cost be so high.