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Just How Is WN Doing In MKE?  
User currently offlinephxtravelboy From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 223 posts, RR: 0
Posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 3432 times:

Now that the battle for MKE has been done for over a year and things have settled down with WN the "winner" I'm curious as to just how well they are performing there. I have flown a flew WN flights to/from MKE in the last year and some flights have been packed while others were maybe half full. I realize that a full flight does not equal a profitable flight and an empty one does not mean it's a money loser. I realize that WN's fleet is being stretched thin as of late but I thought they would have added more service by now. The obvious choices to me are BNA and HOU. Service to OMA, CMH, and PIT would also be nice.I did a check of WN schedules this last weekend and noticed on Saturday they were running several extra flights to FL (not a shock during spring break) with some of the services on the 800 series. So,does anyone know, just how well, or not, is WN doing in MKE?

20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineknope2001 From United States of America, joined May 2005, 2919 posts, RR: 30
Reply 1, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 3331 times:

Southwest's results vary somewhat by market, but there are some general statements:

1. It is taking a long time to educate travelers to check southwest.com and not rely on sites like Kayak, Travelocity, etc. Airport officials have heard complaints from the business community that there are no longer nonstops to places like Boston and Seattle since Southwest took those over from AirTran. That has been a challenge, thought I think it is waning somewhat.

2. Southwest's assumption of the AirTran network in MKE resulted in larger planes (143-seat 737 vs 117-seat 717) but fewer connections because Southwest does not bank MKE like AirTran did. That has meant lower load factors in some markets.

3. Southwest has reduced flying in a number of markets (though in some cases the increased capacity has compensated at least somewhat) to better fit the local market.

4. The code share appears to have helped somewhat -- MKE-DCA in particular was awful last winter in part because FL and WN didn't code share so there were nearly zero DCA-MKE-xxx connections. There are still not as many as in the AirTran days when there was a banked hub, but with code sharing there are some.

5. Yields are way up compared to the battle years -- I have doubts anybody made money even with packed planes through much of that period.


My observations in general terms:

--West coast flights have been mostly packed for most of the year.

--Leisure destinations like Florida, Vegas and Phoenix have gotten a good deal more expensive and fly pretty full, though total volumes are down a bit because of the higher fares.

--East coast business destinations have had lower-than-average loads, especially in winter, but yields have improved a great deal.

--Minneapolis has often has loads of 50% or lower. They are actually flying more local passengers at a better fare than AirTran did. But with larger planes and a no more hub banking loads have been week. That route is decreasing to 2x on weekdays at business times, which hopefully will help performance.

If I have a chance later I'll dig up more specifics, but that's generally how I think they are doing.


User currently offline737tdi From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 861 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3206 times:
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I just searched on Southwest.com and see I could fly MKE to LAS and back for just about $400. Of course these are the Wanna Get Away fares, purchased in advance but this is leaving MKE on a Tues. in Apr. and returning on the next Tues.. Is this out of line with what fares were 4 years ago, 2 years ago? The statement was made that prices have gone up. I am truly curious if this is true or just a randomly tossed opinion. Yes, I did pick Tues. 2 weeks from now, as should anyone knowing they are traveling. Due research is required and flexibility is the only way to get a decent fare on any airline. Bottom line, what was a normal advance purchase ticket 4 years ago, again 2 years ago? Not sale prices but due diligence pricing? I am really looking for a unbiased view/quote on what those prices were and I have quoted what they are now. Thanks.

User currently offlinemtnwest1979 From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 2464 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3186 times:
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Quoting knope2001 (Reply 1):
1. It is taking a long time to educate travelers to check southwest.com and not rely on sites like Kayak, Travelocity, etc. Airport officials have heard complaints from the business community that there are no longer nonstops to places like Boston and Seattle since Southwest took those over from AirTran. That has been a challenge, thought I think it is waning somewhat.

Then their business community is a very unaware group. WN has nonstops to both cities mentioned.



"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"
User currently offlinephxtravelboy From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 223 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3174 times:

"Leisure destinations like Florida, Vegas and Phoenix have gotten a good deal more expensive and fly pretty full, though total volumes are down a bit because of the higher fares."


I actually live in PHX and can definitely testify that Knope2001 is correct in that prices have certainly increased. I used to pay about $119 one way in this market. It is now up to about $159 (which I paid for my trip in May).


User currently offlineCoronado From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 1178 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3162 times:
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One of these days WN will have to finally compete with openess to the GDS systems. They are running out of fools that buy their shell game or 3 card monte. Those customers have moved to Allegiant. Southwest will have to compete and win based on service, punctuality and hopefully free checked bags.


The Original Coronado: First CV jet flights RG CV 990 July 1965; DL CV 880 July 1965; Spantax CV990 Feb 1973
User currently offlineknope2001 From United States of America, joined May 2005, 2919 posts, RR: 30
Reply 6, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3103 times:

Quoting mtnwest1979 (Reply 3):
Quoting knope2001 (Reply 1):1. It is taking a long time to educate travelers to check southwest.com and not rely on sites like Kayak, Travelocity, etc. Airport officials have heard complaints from the business community that there are no longer nonstops to places like Boston and Seattle since Southwest took those over from AirTran. That has been a challenge, thought I think it is waning somewhat.

Then their business community is a very unaware group. WN has nonstops to both cities mentioned.

Yup...that's the point -- because they don't show up in the channels some routinely use they think there's no service. Both the airport and Southwest have stepped up advertising recently and hopefully that continues to help. But it's been an issue here.


User currently offline175erj From United States of America, joined Mar 2014, 140 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3015 times:

Quoting Coronado (Reply 5):

Finally someone else gets it... the reason they don't open their fares up is because they don't want everyone to see just how expensive they really have become. They really are still betting on all the blind sheep just assuming they are the cheapest, not so much anymore. Usually always the Legacy carriers are the same if not cheaper than Southwest. There are always going to be exceptions...but the point is, Southwest is not so low fare anymore.


User currently onlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 23074 posts, RR: 20
Reply 8, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 2991 times:

Quoting 175erj (Reply 7):
There are always going to be exceptions...but the point is, Southwest is not so low fare anymore.

I suppose that depends on your definition of "low," no? After all, the average fare in MKE-PHL, which WN doesn't serve, is $50 higher than the average fare in MKE-WAS. Comparing WN and the legacies on the same route misses the point.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlinemke717spotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 2458 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 2947 times:

I also had kind of hoped that they might've added a few extra routes by now (like BNA, HOU, SLC, and SAN), but at the same time maybe I should just be glad that they haven't cut a bunch of routes either. With all the slots that WN has been picking up at LGA and DCA I think its a safe bet though that MKE will at minimum maintain some sort of service to those two cities.


Will you watch the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions on Sunday? Only if coach Eric Mangini resigned after a loss.
User currently offlineknope2001 From United States of America, joined May 2005, 2919 posts, RR: 30
Reply 10, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 2873 times:

Here are WN+FL results comparing Q3 in 2010 versus Q3 in 2013 at Milwaukee:

--10 pax is 2010 daily passengers for WN/FL
--10 fare is 2010 average WN/FL fare
--13 pax is 2013 daily passengers for WN/FL
--13 fare is 2013 average WN/FL fare
--pax chg is % change in WN/FL passengers in the period
--fare chg is % change in WN/FL average fare in the period
--reg chg is % change in total revenue from local passengers in the period

The table is sorted by change in average fare.

10 pax .. 10 fare … 13 pax .. 13 fare .. pax chg … fare chg … rev chg
564 ….. $105.30 ….. 306 ….. $178.33 … -46% ….. 69% ….. -8.0% ….. BWI
164 ……. $95.27 ….. 175 ….. $153.41 …… 7% ….. 61% ….. 72.5% ….. STL
219 ….. $103.45 ….. 236 ….. $166.13 …… 8% ….. 61% ….. 73.4% ….. MCI
294 ….. $118.90 ….. 147 ….. $185.08 … -50% ….. 56% … -22.2% ….. ATL
193 ….. $114.86 ….. 188 ….. $176.71 ….. -3% ….. 54% ….. 49.6% ….. RSW
613 ….. $114.51 ….. 531 ….. $171.84 … -13% ….. 50% ….. 30.0% ….. MCO
077 ……. $97.71 ….. 097 ….. $145.88 ….. 26% ….. 49% ….. 87.5% ….. MSP
120 ….. $129.89 ….. 117 ….. $193.55 ….. -2% ….. 49% ….. 45.4% ….. FLL
308 ….. $113.33 ….. 314 ….. $162.18 …… 2% ….. 43% ….. 45.7% ….. TPA
301 ….. $119.30 ….. 418 ….. $169.91 ….. 39% ….. 42% ….. 97.9% ….. BOS
283 ….. $183.13 ….. 173 ….. $257.57 … -39% ….. 41% … -14.3% ….. SEA
698 ….. $154.20 ….. 512 ….. $212.98 … -27% ….. 38% ……. 1.3% ….. LAS
308 ….. $157.15 ….. 351 ….. $207.79 ….. 14% ….. 32% ….. 50.5% ….. LAX
690 ….. $114.73 ….. 462 ….. $151.19 … -33% ….. 32% … -11.8% ….. LGA
271 ….. $122.40 ….. 262 ….. $152.52 ….. -3% ….. 25% ….. 20.5% ….. DEN
314 ….. $127.08 ….. 476 ….. $155.68 ….. 52% ….. 23% ….. 85.8% ….. DCA
309 ….. $163.79 ….. 341 ….. $198.14 ….. 10% ….. 21% ….. 33.4% ….. SFO
147 ….. $172.10 ….. 314 ….. $198.23 …. 113% ….. 15% … 145.7% ….. PHX

A few comments:

--Fares have shot up across the board....a weighted average fare increase of 42.2% in 3 years. Fares were just too low to be sustainable.

--Many markets showed an increase in passengers as well for WN+FL, but keep in mind many of these markets lost F9 service over the period. So WN/FL is carrying more MKE-MCI passengers now than 2010, but the total MKE-MCI market is smaller with no F9 passengers.

--LGA is a notable exception with Delta a strong competitor on MKE-LGA. Fares are still close to 1/3 greater than 2010, however.

--The final column shows change in total revenue from local passengers, and originally I sorted by this. However that doesn't take into account capacity or frequency changes and could be misleading. For example MKE-BWI total revenue was down 8%, but in 2010 FL and WN competed with 5 total daily flights and a $105.30 fare. In 2013 they only operated 3 daily flights at a much more sustainable $178.33 fare. Total revenue was down 8% but with 40% fewer flights, larger average aircraft and fares up 69% MKE-BWI is doing far better now than 2010, even through the -8% total revenue suggests otherwise.

MKE has lost a ton of connecting passengers between 2010 and 2013, and some local markets have decreased as fares have risen. But if MKE can't make money for WN there will be more cuts, so while we definitely miss the fantastic fares of previous years, hopefully WN service is stabilizing and we don't lose markets.


User currently offlinerj777 From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 1857 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 2731 times:

What WN (and some of the others) don't seem to get is the law of Supply and Demand:
You SUPPLY the destinations/routes people want and DEMAND will go up!


User currently onlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 23074 posts, RR: 20
Reply 12, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 2589 times:

Quoting rj777 (Reply 11):
What WN (and some of the others) don't seem to get is the law of Supply and Demand:
You SUPPLY the destinations/routes people want and DEMAND will go up!

Of course, if you are selling below cost, it doesn't really matter how much demand you stimulate.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineDCA-ROCguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 4506 posts, RR: 34
Reply 13, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2455 times:

Thank you, Knope, for the detailed data and concise analysis. All of this information is very helpful. It sounds to me like MKE is doing better than might have been expected, consolidation, WN's higher costs and narrower gap with legacies, and reduced connecting traffic. I *loved* the AirTran hub for getting to the West Coast and MSP--not only good fares, but convenient connections with short walks at an uncongested airport. And I got to be in Cheesehead country for a half hour between flights.  

Nevertheless, MKE like other markets makes clear that WN does need to deal with their costs. They can't do anything about the fact that their legacy competitors used bankruptcy to narrow the gap, so maybe the differential will never again be as wide as it was in the 90's and earlier in the last decade. But if they want to be stable for the long term, they need to cut their CASM some and at least widen the gap with legacies somewhat more. Their travel experience is great, but I find a very good experience with other carriers as well. Hopefully this is all stuff WN's management is thinking about.

Jim



Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
User currently offlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26536 posts, RR: 75
Reply 14, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2429 times:

Quoting 737tdi (Reply 2):

I just searched on Southwest.com and see I could fly MKE to LAS and back for just about $400. Of course these are the Wanna Get Away fares, purchased in advance but this is leaving MKE on a Tues. in Apr. and returning on the next Tues.. Is this out of line with what fares were 4 years ago, 2 years ago? The statement was made that prices have gone up. I am truly curious if this is true or just a randomly tossed opinion

Fares have shot up massively, and this is throughout the country.

Quoting knope2001 (Reply 10):

--Fares have shot up across the board....a weighted average fare increase of 42.2% in 3 years. Fares were just too low to be sustainable.

Funny, cause WN was still making money. Fares were fine, collusion is not.



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently onlineusflyguy From United States of America, joined Jan 2012, 993 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2377 times:

Quoting N1120A (Reply 14):

Funny, cause WN was still making money. Fares were fine, collusion is not.

Airlines are not charities, they are supposed to be profit-generating corporations.



My post is my ideas and my opinions only, I do not represent the ideas or opinions of anyone else or company.
User currently offlineFlyPNS1 From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 6618 posts, RR: 24
Reply 16, posted (6 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2363 times:

Quoting DCA-ROCguy" class="quote" target="_blank">DCA-ROCguy (Reply 13):
Nevertheless, MKE like other markets makes clear that WN does need to deal with their costs.

I don't see how you draw this conclusion. Sure, WN has raised fares at MKE and traffic has dropped, but that's largely because the fares at MKE in 2010 were unsustainably low. Even FL, with much lower costs, couldn't make money at MKE in 2010. The fares Knope2001 is showing for 2013 are pretty reasonable averages.

WN will not be able to cut their CASM in any significant way. They aren't going to get cuts from labor and they can't control fuel prices much. Outside of those two major items, WN is already pretty lean in terms of costs. And if anything, WN is too lean in that area and it is affecting operational reliability.

Quoting 175erj (Reply 7):
Usually always the Legacy carriers are the same if not cheaper than Southwest.

Actual fare data doesn't support this. Sure the legacies tend to match on some of the advanced purchase fares, but on many of the last minute fares the legacies gouge customers. I bought a last minute BWI-CLE ticket on WN for $400....UA wanted $800 for DCA-CLE or IAD-CLE.


User currently offlineRamblinMan From United States of America, joined Oct 2010, 1138 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (6 months 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2205 times:

Quoting Coronado (Reply 5):
One of these days WN will have to finally compete with openess to the GDS systems. They are running out of fools that buy their shell game or 3 card monte.

Oh, really? Going to southwest.com is just too complicated for some I guess.


User currently offlinejreuschl From United States of America, joined Jul 2009, 549 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (6 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 1633 times:

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 16):
Actual fare data doesn't support this. Sure the legacies tend to match on some of the advanced purchase fares, but on many of the last minute fares the legacies gouge customers. I bought a last minute BWI-CLE ticket on WN for $400....UA wanted $800 for DCA-CLE or IAD-CLE.

I think flights booked in advance can be cheaper on other carriers, however, last minute is probably cheaper on WN.


User currently offlineTW870 From United States of America, joined Jan 2013, 250 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (6 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 1077 times:
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Quoting jreuschl (Reply 18):
I think flights booked in advance can be cheaper on other carriers, however, last minute is probably cheaper on WN.

Absolutely. If you are discount shopping a month in advance, you are rarely going to end up on Southwest from anywhere. But if you are doing business travel last minute, Southwest is fantastic. In the last year, I have had last minute work trips on MSP-LAS and MSP-MSY. DL was over $1000 in both cases. WN came in at $450 to LAS and $600 to MSY. An excellent yield for them, and it cut my costs in half. That, from what I understand, is how they made money.

Prior to WN coming to MSP, I cancelled a last minute STL trip because the DL and AA fare was $1200. With WN, I could have made the trip.


User currently offlineouboy79 From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 4602 posts, RR: 23
Reply 20, posted (6 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 857 times:

Quoting RamblinMan (Reply 17):
Oh, really? Going to southwest.com is just too complicated for some I guess.

It's amazing how something grandma can accomplish booking her reservation, but some stiff in a suit gives up after the first shot. Granted, I wonder how many of them just have an office assistance search and they do one of the third party sites.

Say WN opens up to third party booking sites, how do you control the display of fares? Say WN is $200 but DL is $190. A couple books a trip for them and the kids on DL because it is cheaper. Then they get to the airport and have bag fees which now pushes them over the cost of WN. So will booking sites differentiate the differences? Or does WN put out a separate tier of fares for third party sites that have a whole new level of rules?

I talk to my friends at other airlines all the time and they can't stand the headaches dealing with pax that book on these different discounter sites. Keep things simple. WN is the largest domestic airline...obviously it isn't hard to figure out.


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