We extended our schedule this morning to March 9th of next year, giving us 228 days of bookable inventory. And there are some changes, but I’m sure you guys expected that! This is actually two pieces of schedule work in one—the January 8-February 11 schedule is completely different from the February 12-March 9 one—making reporting about this new schedule just a tad complex! We’ve done this before, due to the big seasonal traffic changes going from December (Holidays, family visits, merriment) into January (cold, long nights, holiday credit card spending) into February (cabin fever, President’s Day three-day-weekend, and GET ME SOME WARMTH!). So again, you’ll notice the January network is “thinner” than November by about 51 daily roundtrips, with the reductions spread across 81 markets and increases coming to 35 markets. However, we more than make up for the January decreases in February, when the network gains 60 added weekday roundtrips, adding flights back into 72 markets while taking further slight reductions in 13 others. To view a comprehensive list of the Southwest changes, please visit: www.swamedia.com
Diving into the specifics, starting with January, we’re adding two-brand-new markets, Denver-Providence and Ft. Lauderdale-Milwaukee. Two seasonal markets will be coming back—Nashville-Ft. Myers and Ft. Lauderdale-Manchester. We will also exit 12 markets on a nonstop basis, and will temporarily halt nonstops in three markets, which will return in February.
Markets we will temporarily suspend that will return in February:
Markets we are exiting on a nonstop basis:
Boise-Salt Lake City
A number of factors are at play behind the scenes in the construction of these schedules. First, have you noticed the price of oil lately? In a word: volatile. For that reason our Planners have shown a high degree of caution in the initial publication of this schedule because of the uncertainty of the price of fuel in 1Q12. If it looks like we need to add more flights, we can! But the really cool thing that happened with this schedule is that it marks the first base schedule on which Southwest has been able to collaborate with our new BFF’s—our former competitors and new colleagues from AirTran—on our network design, down to the frequency-by-market level. So, some of the January/February changes reflect our initial efforts to harmonize our combined capacity, and to create the new Southwest network. Besides the market exits detailed above, there are a number of markets in which we’re beginning to shift some AirTran capacity over to the Southwest brand, such as Baltimore/Washington to Boston, Orlando and New Orleans, Columbus and St. Louis to Orlando, and Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay/St. Pete. Of course, that marks the start of a long process that has one goal: bringing two airlines together to spread low fares farther.
In the “are there more changes coming for January and February?” department….I can share with you at least one schedule addition that’s in the works. Assuming the NFL gets its act together and actually has a season this year, we have some airplane time set aside on some of the late January/early February weekends to allow us to replicate our highly successful BIG BIG GAME Extra Section program (we aren’t allowed to use the actual name of the big football championship game). Of course, we have no idea where the flights will need to come from, although we know the destination will be Indianapolis.