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WN In SEA  
User currently offlineNwray From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 62 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 4 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 3151 times:

We didn't want to let our daughter drive over Snoqualmie Pass after the holidays, so we snagged a flight from SEA to GEG. Thought it was curious that there were no seats available on AS on Monday, but there were four flights with seats available on WN.

It's obviously a tough competitive situation in Seattle for WN, but is it that much more difficult than in other areas of the country? Is Southwest pleased with its market share in Seattle? Any news?

17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently onlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 29672 posts, RR: 84
Reply 1, posted (7 years 4 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 3130 times:
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WN is a bit distressed at the high landing fees at SEA, and made waves when it expressed a desire to move to BFI. However, the King County Council (who oversees BFI) shot down the request when AS/QX demanded to be able to move operations there, as well, and local traffic worries would have required significant (and expensive) work.

As WN sets the "fare floor" for whatever market they are in, they are able to set fares at a level that makes them money, but they would like to be able to set them lower to put the screws to AS, QX, and UA even more.  Wink


User currently offlineRwSEA From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 3066 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (7 years 4 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 3117 times:

Quoting Nwray (Thread starter):
It's obviously a tough competitive situation in Seattle for WN, but is it that much more difficult than in other areas of the country? Is Southwest pleased with its market share in Seattle? Any news?

WN seems to be doing alright in SEA, but I don't think it's been one of their highest performing stations. Generally speaking, WN is not happy with the high landing fees at SEA, and flirted with the idea of moving to BFI (see the archives for plenty of posts on that topic). That idea was quickly shot down, but WN pledged that it wouldn't be expanding in SEA anytime soon because of the high costs.

That said, I think there's more to the story. Based on WN's history here, I think they've failed to gain the support locally that they have in other cities. First, I think part of this is due to AS and their aggressive stance against WN. When WN first entered the market, AS really pumped up their advertising and positioned themselves as the carrier where "for the same price, you just get more". AS has really grown in SEA during the past decade - to the point where carriers with much larger market shares (including UA and NW) have been scaling back. They offer such high frequencies on key routes like LAX, SFO, ANC, LAS, PHX, etc. that it limits WN's abilities. Take routes on which WN and AS compete, including SMF, LAS, PHX, and you'll see that AS has 7-10 daily frequencies on most of these. On the SEA-GEG route, AS/QX has hourly flights with a mix of 70-seat turboprops and mainline jets, yet they were still sold out. AS continues to have a large and loyal base in the area, despite some of their recent troubles. Additionally, WN hasn't seemed to have caught on with Business travellers in this market, probably because they don't fly nonstop to many key business markets, and don't fly from SEA-So. Cal nonstop.

Combining AS' agressive turf protection with WN's opposition to SEA's operating costs, I doubt they'll grow in terms of flights or market share any time soon. That said, WN has carved out a nice niche for themselves in the market, offering exclusive nonstops to destinations like MCI, ABQ, MDW, and BNA.

Any other thoughts?


User currently offlineNwray From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 62 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (7 years 4 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 3098 times:

Hey, thanks for the responses.

No more thoughts, just questions. I've never really understood how the level of SEA operating costs would cause WN to limit their expansions in the market. Aren't the costs equal for all airlines? If so, isn't the playing field level? I must be missing something.

Do you think AS frequent flyer/code sharing arrangements are superior to WN, and that gives them another advantage?


User currently offlineRwSEA From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 3066 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (7 years 4 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 3074 times:

Quoting Nwray (Reply 3):
Do you think AS frequent flyer/code sharing arrangements are superior to WN, and that gives them another advantage?

I think that may be part of it, but I think the largest part is the frequency to key destinations around the PNW. This includes flights every 30 minutes to PDX, hourly to GEG, almost hourly to SFO and LAX. AS/QX gets lots of exposure on these routes and are known as the leader and with the most flights. That's probably why they do better.

AS does have a very very strong FF program, due in part to the attractive number of partners.


User currently offlineUSPIT10L From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 3295 posts, RR: 7
Reply 5, posted (7 years 4 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 3048 times:

Quoting Nwray (Reply 3):
I've never really understood how the level of SEA operating costs would cause WN to limit their expansions in the market. Aren't the costs equal for all airlines? If so, isn't the playing field level? I must be missing something.

The playing field is supposed to be level, but Southwest likes to run a very lean operation. If they can get deals on airport leases, they tend to go towards those cities. When Southwest announced service to PIT, everybody that worked for an airline knew that the local airport authority gave them a sweetheart deal for gate leases, just to sweeten the pot a bit. I think that's true in a lot of other East Coast markets, especially PHL, BWI, and BDL. Now I know the cost of doing business in MHT and PVD is much less than BOS, and WN will avoid airports with ATC and weather problems like the plague whenever possible. But some opportunities are just too good to pass up. I think they would like to grow SEA into a bigger station, but AS/QX, plus the leases there make it very difficult for them. Quite simply, they have bigger fish to fry than to stand there and scream murder about high leases. I did admire their approach to moving ops to BFI. Too bad AS/QX had to cry foul.



It's a Great Day for Hockey!
User currently offlineSANFan From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 5221 posts, RR: 14
Reply 6, posted (7 years 4 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 3023 times:

Quoting RwSEA (Reply 2):
Combining AS' agressive turf protection with WN's opposition to SEA's operating costs, I doubt they'll grow in terms of flights or market share any time soon. That said, WN has carved out a nice niche for themselves in the market.

Beautifully said, Rw; I completely agree with your analysis of the SEA market.

I noticed that WN is adding a MDW flight from SEA (for a new total of 4 n/s) on their March Mega-Schedule-Expansion so there are, as you said, at least some markets that WN feels like serving adequately (read: protecting?) And, of course, as long as WN serves their "hubs" (e.g., MDW, LAS, OAK) from places like SEA, the people who want WN can still get just about anywhere on the WN route map.

Happy Holidays to All.

bb


User currently offlineSJCRRPAX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (7 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 2925 times:

Maybe it has something to do with all those crazy little Horizon planes? Alaska looks like it can make you a connection to about any small city up there.

I've flown to Seattle quite a few times on WN from SJC and its reasonable full usually. I think almost all the flights from Seattle to Spokane come from SJC, OAK or SMF so the Seattle-Spokane flight is just another leg of a "bus route". They could probably run that section empty and still make a profit.


User currently offlineAirframeAS From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 14150 posts, RR: 25
Reply 8, posted (7 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 2763 times:

Quoting USPIT10L (Reply 5):
Too bad AS/QX had to cry foul.

AS/QX were not the only ones crying, the BFI area residents were crying foul too.



A Safe Flight Begins With Quality Maintenance On The Ground.
User currently offlineHikesWithEyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 816 posts, RR: 7
Reply 9, posted (7 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 2696 times:

Quoting USPIT10L (Reply 5):
Too bad AS/QX had to cry foul.

Who cried foul ?
AS merely stated that they would have to move a significant number of
flights to BFI in the interest of competion.



First, benzene in my Perrier, and now this!
User currently offlineAlaska737 From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 1062 posts, RR: 5
Reply 10, posted (7 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 2600 times:

one of the main reasons AS beats WN in SEA is because
1. Hometown airline, plus QX
2. Alaska connection
3. Miles, miles, miles, gotta love that gold card
4. partner airlines


User currently offlineGunsontheroof From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3493 posts, RR: 10
Reply 11, posted (7 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 2512 times:

Quoting USPIT10L (Reply 5):
The playing field is supposed to be level

then

Quoting USPIT10L (Reply 5):
I did admire their approach to moving ops to BFI. Too bad AS/QX had to cry foul.

 Confused

You're not going to find a lot of people in Seattle who wanted to see WN (or anyone else) offering service at BFI. The level of infrastructure changes required would be enormous, and BFI is hardly the best candidate for any future reliever airport for SEA.



Next Flight: 9/17 BFI-BFI
User currently offlineAirframeAS From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 14150 posts, RR: 25
Reply 12, posted (7 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 2415 times:

Quoting Gunsontheroof (Reply 11):
You're not going to find a lot of people in Seattle who wanted to see WN (or anyone else) offering service at BFI.

 checkmark  It was a political stunt on WN's move and it didnt work. They were never going to move to BFI to begin with, the only thing they wanted to do is get a better rate from SEA to do business there.

The thing that really gets me is that WN was one of the tenants who voted IN FAVOR OF the 3rd runway knowing that the fees would go up. Then they try to jump ship to avoid having to pay for what they voted for. Makes no sense to me at all. This is one of the reasons why I dont fly WN, they cant seem to make up their minds about anything.... but thats just me.



A Safe Flight Begins With Quality Maintenance On The Ground.
User currently offlineDacman From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 444 posts, RR: 9
Reply 13, posted (7 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 2382 times:

AirframeAS,

You are not biased in anyway are you?

Michael
Dacman
LAX/LGB Local



"Airliner Photography is not a crime"
User currently offlineAirframeAS From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 14150 posts, RR: 25
Reply 14, posted (7 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 2355 times:

Quoting Dacman (Reply 13):
You are not biased in anyway are you?

It depends on certain things, so to anwser your question: yes and no.



A Safe Flight Begins With Quality Maintenance On The Ground.
User currently offlinePavlovsDog From Norway, joined Sep 2005, 656 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (7 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 2310 times:

I think another factor curtailing WN in Seattle is that they have a rather hokie style which doesn't really jive with the rather sedate Seattle culture which is a bit out of synch with most with rest of the country. WN can be seen as having a facade whereas the AS/QX culture seems more honest to a lot of Northwesterners.

User currently offlineSJCRRPAX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (7 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2228 times:

Quoting PavlovsDog (Reply 15):
I think another factor curtailing WN in Seattle is that they have a rather hokie style which doesn't really jive with the rather sedate Seattle culture which is a bit out of synch with most with rest of the country. WN can be seen as having a facade whereas the AS/QX culture seems more honest to a lot of Northwesterners.

 confused 

I have lived in the Northwest, I have relatives in the Northwest, I have spent a lot of time in the Northwest, and this statement has me confused. Does WN need to serve Starbucks Coffee and trade in the San Diego Zoo Uniforms for snow jackets? Just curious about your observation, are you a Seattle Native, a Norwegian who moved to Seattle, a California transplant living in Seattle, or an unbiased Norweigan observer living in Norway. (Sometimes I wish people would use the same flag as their passport, I bet it is only Americans that use other country flags --- but that is a topic for a different group)


User currently offlinePavlovsDog From Norway, joined Sep 2005, 656 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (7 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2193 times:

I lived in the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle, for 2/3 of my life. Born and currently residing in Norway.

My statement is based nothing but specualtion, personal observations and conversations with Seattlites. To what degree it is true I don't know. It certainly has impacted the flying choices made by several people I know who prefer Alaska's low-key style to Southwest's brash style.


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