Charlotte and Columbia: As much as you guys deserve Southwest service, who knows where they will go next!
If you look strictly at U.S.Census data ranking the populations of metro areas of this country, there are only a few in the top 50 where Southwest does not fly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_metropolitan_statistical_areas_by_population) and here's a short list of the ones not served:
Atlanta (population rank #8)
Cincinnati (rank #24)
Charlotte (rank #34)
Memphis (rank #41)
Richmond (rank #43)
Rochester (rank #51)
Fresno (rank #54)
Dayton (rank #61)
Greensboro (rank #71)
Southwest treads very carefully in large cities where the competition has a large hub, which means they may stay away from the first 4 cities on this list for awhile! Which leads me to believe that some of the next cities to get Southwest service may be Richmond, Rochester, Fresno, or Dayton.
Dayton and Cincinnati are rapidly becoming one large metropolis much like Dallas/Ft. Worth, and of course those of us in "Southwest" Ohio would love to see them arrive here soon! If you combine the populations of Dayton and Cincinnati together then you have a large metro area of over 3 million people, ranking the area in size larger than St. Louis and slightly smaller than San Diego, and larger even than Baltimore which is so big for Southwest.
If Delta dismantles their Cincinnati hub then I believe Southwest will arrive there quickly. However Delta has a lock on all the airport gates until 2015 as long as they maintain high service levels.
My vote would be for Southwest to go to Dayton! After all, without the Wright Brothers we wouldn't have air travel to begin with! Dayton is already a low-cost airport and is easily accessible from northern Cincinnati, and would be a great way to serve SOUTHWEST Ohio!
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Is Southwest promising to keep ALL the "new" cities obtained through a Frontier acquisition? The only one mentioned as being dropped off the route map was DFW in favor of Love Field because of existing operations there. What about Akron, OH then? Isn't it too close to Cleveland operations to leave it as a standalone CAK-DEN flight route? What about Dayton, will the operations be expanded there like with other Southwest cities with multiple flights to multiple hubs as Atlanta will be eventually? With the purchase of Lynx that seems to secure the fate of the short-hop cities currently provided by Frontier. The Mexican/Costa Rica destinations seem secure. What about Anchorage?
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Seems like to me that Southwest can't simply start swapping existing or new 737's for the Airbuses currently going to Mexico and Central America. Doesn't an operating certificate apply to only a certain type of aircraft? And given that Southwest doesn't just sit still and would be happy with 6 destinations south of the border, it would need a way to expand in that direction and others as well, but with 737's, a magazine, and a bag of peanuts?
Maybe a nice outcome would be that Southwest could shift Frontier's operations to be its "international" arm, and therefore re-assign many of the planes, employees, and general "know how" to other "hubs" such as Chicago, Baltimore, Phoenix, Vegas, etc and use an enhanced "product" with setback TV's, etc. for longer distance international travel.
Remember that Southwest had to connect with ATA in order to start serving Hawaii (as well as LGA, DCA, and others), and when ATA went bust they had to drop Hawaii off the route-map the next day, suffered that black eye, and hasn't been back since. Southwest has talked for years to hook up with a partner to the south to start offering Mexico service and to other countries, but maybe because of the ATA experience they don't want to rely on other airlines to represent the "Southwest" brand.
Of course SW would want to keep using 737's in Denver and in the U.S. but they are a big enough airline to start using another aircraft type if they really want to. Other low cost airlines and some actually more "lower cost" than Southwest are using multiple aircraft types, such as Airtran, Jetblue, and Spirit.
To those that say that "Southwest would never do this" or "never to that" might have been right in the past, but in order to be around for another 30 years and more, it needs to change beyond simply adding one U.S. city after another to the route map when the growth opportunites that way are rather limited.
This could be a whole new chapter for a great airline that does well adapting to change - and maybe Frontier employees can keep an open mind that they can possibly be part of an exciting new era and go along for the ride!
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Southwest has been one of my favorite airlines for a long time - as a Dayton resident we have had Frontier service to Denver for 4 years now and its always been great to fly them to the Rockies and beyond. Flying on SW means a long trek to Columbus but is still worth it.
Maybe you don't know all the answers yet, but will Dayton become a de-facto "new" city for Southwest? Expanding at DAY would be a great way to serve the Cincinnati market, since the Dayton/Cincy region is becoming a metropolis much like Dallas/Ft Worth with a lot of population growth occuring north of Cincinnati. That's why DAY has been doing so well for Frontier and Airtran, with a pool of 2 million residents that are between Dayton and 1/2 way to Cincinnati. The airport is becoming more attractive with a parking garage under construction, new restaurants within the airport and a new hotel on-site being constructed soon.
Please convince your powers-to-be that if you purchase Frontier that you intend to keep our flights to Denver and expand with your traditional model to serve your major cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore, etc! Dayton has not had service to Midway since ATA went out of business, and only United is serving Chicago at all. American dropped service to ORD, and also St. Louis, and serves only DFW. A direct link to San Antonio would be great too due to all the military jobs moving to Wright Patterson AFB which is growing from base realignments. WPAFB is the largest single employer in the state of Ohio. There is a lot of flying from here to Baltimore by Air Force personnel.
I'm sure the focus for awhile will be on absorbing the Frontier transaction if you win the auction and taking advantage of possible new destinations such as Mexico, Atlanta, etc.
Just remember that without Dayton and the Wright Brothers from here, that we wouldn't even have airplanes and airline service in this world at all - and we would hate to be lost in the shuffle and lose Frontier going to Denver and end up with nothing!
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