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SOUTHWEST AND LAGUARDIA: START SPREADIN’ THE….POSSIBILITY????

Employee
Employee

Brace yourselves.

Today Southwest Airlines announced our intention to bid to begin service to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport.

Yes.  You read that correctly.  Southwest plans to pursue a bid to start service to LaGuardia Airport.  This isn’t just big news, it’s huge.  GINORMOUS!  I think h-e-double-hockey-sticks just froze over…and I am certain a number of my friends in this industry have yet to pick their jaws up off of the floor!

For those of you that aren’t familiar with LaGuardia Airport (LGA), it’s the most centrally located of New York City’s three major airports.  Flying into or out of LGA is guaranteed to put you in a “New York state of mind,” from the views of the Manhattan skyline on your approach or departure right down to the airport’s name itself—Fiorello LaGuardia helped build the airport in the 1930’s while he was mayor of New York City.  Located in the borough of Queens, right on the “scenic” waters of Flushing Bay and close to Shea Stadium, it’s the closest major airport to Manhattan.  What Love Field is to Dallas, Hobby Airport is to Houston, and Midway Airport is to Chicago, LaGuardia Airport is to New York City. 

In the category of SWA/LGA history, we’ve been asked for as long as I can remember (and I’ve been here 18 years) to add LGA as a destination, but until now it just wasn’t a realistic opportunity.  As many of you know, LGA is one of only four airports in America that are slot controlled, meaning you literally have to have a slot (or legal authority) to schedule an arrival or a departure.  These slots are specific down to the half-hour that an airline can schedule a landing or takeoff, and are very finite—only a certain amount are allowed in any thirty-minute period.   And while you can buy, sell, and trade them, because of the airport’s popularity, LGA slots are in HUGE demand and are seldom available at any price.  Further, because they don’t always come in arrival with departure combinations that would enable a Southwest-style operation, being able to secure arrival/departure slots that can be “stitched together” in such a way to enable us to begin enough service to make it economically viable for Southwest wasn’t realistic, let alone easy. We’ve known for years how huge the immediate New York City market was, but we didn’t have a realistic way to shoe-horn ourselves in.

Until now.

You all remember our former codeshare partner, ATA Airlines, who ceased operations in April of this year.  They provided service between LaGuardia and our major base at Chicago’s Midway airport (and, for a while, to Houston/Hobby). In the three-plus years we were codeshare partners we got a very good look at the potential of LGA’s connectivity to the Southwest network—but it was like Tantalus’ torture, forever hungry and thirsty but never able to eat or drink.  With ATA’s partnership we were able to experience what a great fit LGA would be for Southwest from a revenue and traffic perspective but still weren’t able to serve it with our own People and aircraft.  Even after ATA’s demise, we couldn’t immediately try to begin service to LGA (even though our aircraft are perfectly suited to serving LGA) because ATA’s LGA slots were tied up in their bankruptcy  proceedings and didn’t immediately become available.

However, in the past month or so, a light was turned on at the end of our LaGuardia-less tunnel.  The bankruptcy court in Indiana (where ATA was headquartered) published their procedures to bid on ATA’s remaining business, including their 14 LGA slots—which would equate to 7 daily arrivals and departures at LGA, and are in close enough time proximity to each other to not destroy Southwest’s efficiencies.  What today’s announcement means is that we have formally made a bid—which, if approved by the court, will enable Southwest Airlines to be able to expand with our own Red Bellied Birds into a market that we first developed via our ATA codeshare.
 
Now, again, guys—this isn’t a done deal.  At this point it’s only a bid that would allow us to assume ATA's slots, so we’re not ready to talk about where we’ll fly and things like that.  But Southwest service to New York’s LaGuardia Airport is now a definite possibility, so you can start spreading the news!  Of course, we’ve got a lot to learn about how to schedule, and operate, within a slot-controlled environment—but those should be easy learning curves to climb.  
 

 

61 Comments
Employee
Employee
Leigh, PHX-LGA isn't possible. LGA has a perimiter rule which caps that maximum distance you can fly to or from LGA at 1,500 statute miles, plus Denver. At 2,140 miles, PHX-LGA is well over the limit. So, no matter where Southwest serves LGA from--PHX will have to have at least one stop. Sorry! Bill
New Arrival
Here's how I would see the initial LGA service. BWI 3 MDW 2 MCO 1 TPA 1 either that or BWI 4 MDW 3 I though the 14 "slots" were turns, I was very wrong.
Not applicable
All Southwest really needs to do to get into the New York Market is to make getting to ISP easier. Considering the delays associated with New York airports, an extra hour of travel to ISP should be comparable to an extra hour or two fo waiting at LGA or JFK. What people living in New York City need for this to be a viable solution is a way to get there without a car. This could be accomplished by relocating the terminal to the north side of the airport, so it is within walking distance of the train station. The train ride is within a reasonable amount of time from the city, however, the connecting shuttle bus currently makes the trip too long. Southwest could also provide bus service from the city, but would need frequent service that is cheap enough for people to use.
Not applicable
I have never read this blog before, but when I heard that Southwest might be coming to LGA I had to hear the word straight from the source. As a Midwestern transplant to NYC, I would be thrilled to fly Southwest to and from the Big Apple. No other airline offers the service, heart, and personality quite like Southwest. Bill, this is very welcome news indeed! Suggested destinations: MDW, BWI, Love Field.
Not applicable
12 Slots are not that many. As much as I want LGA to MCO services. I can really only see non-stops and BWI and MDW. The other problem I see with LGA is that flights are delayed. If Southwest is smart, they will reroute any flight that is expected to be delayed more than three hours to ISP when the airport is too crowded and provide ground transportation. Considering that th airport collects terminal fees, those fees are what should really go to funding the ground transportation, but this would benefit Southwest anyway. This would be an inconvenience for passengers, but one that beats waiting longer time at the terminal. This will also save them fuel if planes are placed in holding patterns and have to fly around for more than an hour consuming fuel. With such a contingency plan, the plane might even be able to take off if the airport has a ground hold.
Not applicable
hey was wondering when will washington dulles GET NEW CITIES TO FLY TO?
Not applicable
Hello Bill, I am absoluely estatic at the announce for LGA. I think it would be a great complement to the system. I know there are a few people that are worrisome about the delay issue that alot of other airlines encounter with LGA, but LGA has been improving their arrival time. Last month I believe they posted a 73 percent ontime arrival. I know... not as high as other airports but a huge improvement from last place. I sincerely hope that BWI is not forgotten about in the slot selection. The feeder traffic from the south and from florida would be overwhelming. GREAT for Southwest. True it would be good to have high freqencies to one market from the jump but like someone said before, what happens if MDW shutdown? What are the options? I say don't just share LGA with residents west of MDW where connecting there is feasible. Share the 66th city wtih the whole Southwest system. If you want them full. The market is definately there. Even if the NYC - PBI/FLL/MIA/TPA/RSW/ANYTHING ASSOCIATED TO FLORIDA market is already saturated, that city has 21million people in their metropolitan area. I think that one of the only cities I believe that can never be over served. just not enough airports...THANK GOD LOL. ( I mean no harm MDW, but your winters are beyond me. I don't know how you guys do it which is the reason why you guys are such a great airline I guess. ) I live in the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan Area and of course by your rapid growth here you guys know there's alot of people here who absolutely love you and willing to spend the money... LGA would solidify it. I know alot of people that would drive to DCA to fly to LGA because US Airways Shuttle uses Airbus 319 rather than fly out of BWi becuase they uses regional jets. Don't forget about that influx, but I'll guess we'll all have to hold it in and tap our pencils until you guys announce which lucky CITIES ( hopefully ) will get the LGA gig. Until then...
Not applicable
I didn't understand the stipulation that LGA only allows a certain mileage "plus Denver"...how does this affect someone like me flying from ONT (Ontario, CA) to LGA...would there be any possibility I could fly to Denver, change planes there and go direction to LGA? I would love to fly to NYC with a maximum of 1 stop, otherwise I get there too late due to the time difference! (I don't like to pay sky high NYC hotel prices and arrive too late to even go out to dinner!)
Not applicable
Does anyone have any news? Was the bid successful?
Not applicable
awesome! now can you PLEASE buy ATA's Washington National (DCA) slots and start flying there?
Not applicable
YA'LL DID IT YOU GUYS ARE FINALLY HERE. THANKS YOU SO MUCH SWA!!! , LUV NEW YORK CITY lol