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Wed Jan 23, 2002 11:12 pm

Can anyone tell me why Southwest doesn't go into ATL? With all their expansion and growth in the past few years it seems that they would want to at least have a few flights into such a large market. Is it simply a matter of gate space at Hartsfield or is their some other reason?

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Wed Jan 23, 2002 11:55 pm

Because they aren't stupid.
They wouldn't survive in ATL with Delta and AirTran.
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Thu Jan 24, 2002 12:15 am

Delays, delays, delays.

Southwest, as a rule, avoids large airports where traffic delays would foul up their nationwide operations. Atlanta, being one of the busiest airports in the nation (or *the* busiest, depending on who you believe), is particularly prone to this, as evidenced by the recent Atlanta snow/ice storm that screwed up operations for airlines across the country.

There has been some noise about Southwest going to Peachtree or DeKalb, but as Flyer732 mentioned, why would they bother with putting their resources towards the ATL market when they'll have to compete with one of the Big Three, *and* another discount carrier? There are plenty of virgin markets getting assaulted by the majors with less competition, and these are the markets that WN is going to put their resources towards developing. It only makes sense that they do this.

Perhaps in 10 years, after WN has maxed-out the medium-tier markets, they'll be ready to start a serious, all-out assault on the fortress hubs. At the rate they're going now, it could take even less time than that. But just look at the long-term strategy: become the strongest you can be serving your bread-and-butter markets, all the while taking traffic away from the majors and weakening them, *then* start cutting into their markets when their weak profit margins can't sustain attempts to run you out of business. Simply brilliant.


Thu Jan 24, 2002 1:48 am

I agree that Atlanta is not in Southwest's vision.

Although, I think its safe to say that no one except the folks in Dallas know -->for certain<-- where Southwest is headed and the timeline they'll use to get there.

Predictions that Southwest would never alter the livery and never dump the plastic boarding cards - essentially two of things that make Southwest, well Southwest, have both been shelved for newer approaches.

Delta, United, Northwest & Company all realize that Southwest may not always fly under their radar and seek secondary airports. Southwest has the muscle to shove aside any of these airlines if they so choose. Nothing would surprise me.
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Thu Jan 24, 2002 4:36 am

As others have said, Southwest avoids congested hub airports because they find it easier to make money at less-congested, smaller airports. Airplanes make money in the air, not by being twentieth in line for takeoff behind a slew of Delta and AirTran planes. Moreover, it just isn't as profitable for Southwest to go up against a large network major carrier at its hub. The incumbent carrier has the advantage of a frequent flyer base and the ability to set fares to meet or beat Southwest's. While it's likely that Southwest could make money even in that sort of scenario, they can make EVEN MORE money by adding service to underserved, high-fare markets. Essentially, they can continue to grow most profitably by going after the lowest-hanging fruit.

I agree that Southwest will go after the major hubs once they've exhausted the possibilities available in small-to-medium-size markets. My gut instinct is that they'd go after weaker hubs like MEM, PIT, etc. first.
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Thu Jan 24, 2002 7:22 am

And remember Herb's line:

"It'll be a cold day in hell before we serve Atlanta"

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Thu Jan 24, 2002 7:30 am

Bingo Scottb....ATL does not make sense for Southwest. If, say, PDK were something along the line of Midway--an air-carrier-ready airport with a vacant terminal-- (and not located near Buckhead SuperNIMBY's) Atlanta might be a possibility. But the existing situation where only busy DL- and FL-dominated ATL is really an option, makes that market unattractive to WN.

Yes, Atlanta has a very large O & D base, and if another airport were available, Southwest might consider it. But there's way, way too much fruit out there that hangs much lower, as someone else already noted.

Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
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Thu Jan 24, 2002 9:12 am

For further discussion, I'd suggest doing a search. We've had a number of thorough discussions on ATL's suitability for Southwest in the past.
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Thu Jan 24, 2002 11:09 pm

Off topic a little- but when I lived in Atlanta there was talk about Briscoe Field in Gwinnett county possibly positioning themselves for some limited commercial service in the future. It would be great for the people in the Northern suburbs. Anything ever come of this?
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Thu Jan 24, 2002 11:13 pm

I really doubt that WN will serve ATL due to the heavily entrenched competition between Delta and AirTran.

Now, if Atlanta, GA had a second airport with commercial service it wouldn't take long before WN shows up.  Smile
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Thu Jan 24, 2002 11:21 pm

Briscoe Field- No commercial service allowed by airport charter.
Rumor, from a good source says. SW pumped a bunch of money into this airport through some back channels to get the runway lengthed so a 737 could land there. The runway got built and news leaked about SW possibly starting service there. Ofcourse the Nimbys jumped in with a little help from Delta's friends in government the airport charter was changed. PDK has the same restiction I believe.
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Fri Jan 25, 2002 12:23 am

It's amazing what different responses Southwest elicits in different cities. Most cities would move heaven and earth to get Southwest, and their low fares and economic-development potential. They have this strange idea that low fares improve quality of life, and help businesses to better connect with their partners or offices elsewhere.

The response around Briscoe Field sounds a lot like the response around Trenton-Mercer airport in New Jersey, where Southwest has also shown interest. Rich NIMBY's around West Trenton and Ewing Township have blocked plans to lengthen TTN's runway to handle fully loaded 737's. One TTN-area NIMBY leader even recently waved around a letter from WN demurring on service for now, as if this was some kind of trophy.

One might as well wave one's bloody nose around as a trophy after having hacked it off of one's face, but some people have very distorted priorities.

And shame on the local government for allowing Delta to get the charter changed!


Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
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Fri Jan 25, 2002 5:52 am

Actually Briscoe Field and PDK aren't the only airports in the Metro Atlanta area to be the base of proposed scheduled ops. FTY was being proposed back during the 80s but the NIMBYs and Delta and Eastern raised holy hell. Tara Field, south of ATL was even being touted, but the NIMBYs sruck again. If WN was to enter GA, SAV and AGS would be the most likely cities. And somebody beat me to the punch on Herb's line....

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