Here's a topic I don't think has been discussed much that I would love to hear other people's opnion on.
I was looking at an old (incomplete) list of WN stations and the dates they opened that I had from a long time ago and noticed there have been several occasions when Southwest opened more than one new city on the same day.
The first time, of course, was June 18, 1971 when they opened DAL, IAH, and SAT. DAL had flights to both SAT and IAH, but I believe the SAT-Houston leg was added a short time later and I can't remember if it was before or after WN starting shifting their IAH flights over to HOU in November 1971.
LBB and MAF both opened on May 20, 1977, and while I believe they each had flights to both DAL and HOU, there was no scheduled n/s service between LBB and MAF.
SAN, PHX and LAS all opened on January 31, 1982. Does anyone remember whether or not each of those three cities had nonstop service to the other two as part of WN's initial schedules out of those three cities?
MDW and STL both opened March 17, 1985 and I believe each city had nonstop service to the other as part of the initial service.
PDX - 06-06-1994
SEA - 06-06-1994
GEG - 06-06-1994
BOI - 10-04-1994
SLC - 10-04-1994
TUS - 10-04-1994
These weren't really "new" cities -- they were cities where Morris Air had established service and those stations were merged into WN's network.
TPA and FLL were both opened on the same day -- January 22, 1996 and each city had nonstop service to the other as part of the initial service.
TPA opened with 12 daily departures and FLL with 6.
6 x FLL
2 x MSY
2 x BWI
1 x BNA
1 x STL.
FLL just had 6 x TPA to start, although by April 7, 1996 when WN opened MCO, FLL was up to 8 daily TPA n/s and got 5 more to MCO.
January of 1996 was the last time WN opened multiple cities on the same day.
They've already announced IAD but they haven't yet announced which destinations they'll serve nonstop from there. Wouldn't it be a surprise if one of the destinations to be served nonstop from IAD turned out to be another new city like CLT or CVG? Talk about killing two birds (new cities) with one stone.
Here's some IAD/DCA Data from 3Q 2005
CVG - IAD/DCA - 411 miles
407 daily passengers
avg. fare $193.09 (47.0 cents per mile)
DL mkt share 81.01%
DL avg. fare $208.84 (50.8 cents per mile)
US mkt share 13.26%
US avg. fare $109.54 (26.6 cents per mile)
If WN offered IAD-CVG service, they'd mainly be competing with DL and their 50 cent per mile fares and not so much with US. Isn't most of US's service to CVG from DCA, or do they serve that city-pair from IAD too?
As a comparison look at what WN did in the PIT-MDW market. PIT-MDW is 412 miles, or one mile further than IAD-CVG.
That route now sees 1520 daily passengers
avg. fare (all carriers $82.88 (20.1 cents per mile)
Less than five months after entering PIT, WN is now the market share leader on that city-pair with a 42.10% share and WN's avg. fare is $56.42 or 13.7 cents per mile! They could charge 20 cents per mile for IAD-CVG for an average fare of $82.20, which would still beat US' avg. fare (and certainly DL's) and still make a nice profit.
CLT - IAD/DCA - 330 miles
732 daily passengers
Avg. fare $140.91 (42.0 cents per mile)
US mkt share 52.45%
US avg. fare $169.96 (50.7 cents per mile)
DH (now gone) was the low fare leader on that route with a 31.81% share and an avg. fare of $96.47 or 28.8 cents per mile) WN could do it for a lower avg. fare than DH did (and not have to file for bankruptcy.)
Again, we have a similar route we can look at as a comparison. PHL-RDU is 336 miles or six miles further than IAD-CLT.
RDU - 336 miles
Q3 2003 (pre WN): 403 daily pax
$213.24 avg. fare (63.5 cent per mile)
Q3 2005 (post WN): 1512 daily pax (up 275%)
$76.19 avg. fare (all cariers) (22.7 cents per mile)
US mkt share 49.33%
US av. fare $88.25 (26.7 cents per mile)
WN mkt share 46.82%
WN avg. fare $61.98 (18.4 cents per mile)
WN could charge an avg. fare of 20 cents a mile on CLT-IAD and have an avg. fare of $66.00. That's more than enough for WN to turn a profit and would still represent a 61% savings over US avg. fare on that route in Q3 2005 and a 32% savings over DH's avg. fare back then.
Here's another interesting aspect about opening two cities at once where part of the initial service From New City #1 is to New City #2..
Suppose WN decides to open two new cities. The decide they want each of the new cities to have an initial schedule of 12 daily departures and 12 daily arrivals. (24 total flight segments)
The open one city on the West Coast and one on the East Coast. 48 total flight segments.
Now suppose that instead, they opened two new cities simultaneously in close proximately to each other and part of New City #1's initial service was nonstop flights to New City #2 and vice versa.
Just using IAD and CLT as a "what if?" example, what if 7 of IAD's initial 12 daily departures (and 7 arrivals) could be to other cities like MDW, RDU, MHT for a total of 14 flight segments. Ditto for CLT - 7 departures and 7 arrivals to Florida, MDW, West Coast - wherever. 14 more flight segments.
IAD and CLT would then each need 5 additional daily departures (and arrivals) to bring the total number of daily roundtrip flights at each to 12.
IAD's five additional departures/arrivals could be to/from CLT and CLT's five additional departures/arrivals could be to/from IAD for a total of 10 additional flight segments.
14 flight segments plus 14 flight segments plus 10 flight segments = 38 total flight segments needed to open 2 new cities with 12 daily roundtrips each. If you open a new city on either Coast it takes 48 flight segments to give each of the two new cities 12 daily roundtrips. Seems like you'd get more for less opening 2 new cities with initial service to each other. Does that make sense?
Heck if WN really wanted to blow people's minds, they should jus go ahead and open IAD, CVG and CLT (3 new cities on the same day.) The could either start with the three cities each having service to the other two, or they could just start with the IAD-CVG and IAD-CLT legs and add CVG-CLT later like they did with SAT-HOU.
Look at the three triangles (Original Texas Triangle, 1982 West Coast Triange and proposed IAD-CVG-CLT Triangle) on a map.
The CLT-IAD-CVG triangle has longer sides than the Texas Triangle and the 1982 West Coast Triangle and it's inverted, but they're all three kind of similar.
WN has said it will announce IAD destinations sometime this summer. They could make the announcement on their 35th anniversary June 18, 2006 by saying they were replicating their original Texas Triangle in the Mid-Atlantic.
What are they chances WN would ever do this type of thing again? And what cities not currently served by WN are in close proximity to each other where WN could pull this off?
I don't know if Southwest would ever do something like this again, but it sure is fun to dream about.