Tiger119
Topic Author
Posts: 1593
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2003 1:52 pm

Why No Southwest Airlines At RSW?

Tue Dec 23, 2003 2:48 pm

I have wondered about this for a while, but why doesn't Southwest Airlines fly into Fort Myers, FL? Is it because they fly into other airports fairly close or is it because right now RSW is pretty small and cramped for space? Maybe the fees to the airlines are high? I don't know but it seems like they could fill their seats with flights into there from the Midwest and Northeast, especially during the winter.
Flying is the second greatest thrill known to mankind, landing is the first!
 
bnatraveler
Posts: 304
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2003 10:10 am

RE: Why No Southwest Airlines At RSW?

Tue Dec 23, 2003 3:08 pm

Okay, I'll hazard a guess:

1) One runway. That hasn't stopped them before, but based on the traffic here one runway is very limiting.

2) Small, cramped terminal; no available gates. This is being fixed by the construction of a new terminal (which is coming along nicely).

3) Low yield traffic. SWA is clearly focusing most of its attention on high yielding routes. Florida traditionally has low yields and high volume.
 
thunder9
Posts: 175
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 8:02 am

RE: Why No Southwest Airlines At RSW?

Tue Dec 23, 2003 5:48 pm

I worked at KRSW from Dec '94 to Apr '97. At that time, KRSW was pricing themselves out of the mainline market. I can only assume that the same still holds true today. Back then, the landing fees, rent, etc. was extremely costly to the carriers. I know that during my time there, the landing fees were as much as double at any of the other medium-large Florida airports, and the rent for office space bordered on extorsion, IMO. We closed our baggage service office and just did bag claims at our ticket counter after the rent was to be raised from about $56USD/sq. foot of space to around $72USD/sq. foot!  Angry

I used to be a regular at a small, local sports bar and knew a guy who told me that his dad (who was a construction contractor) was heavily involved in building KRSW in the very early '80s. His dad told him that the cost to build was something like 40-50% higher than had been forecast, so it's possible that the Lee County Port Authority (the Airport Operator) was trying to make up for some of the deficit. That's all hearsay, but it makes sense.

As BNAtraveler said, it's also a low-yield market as well. I clearly recall an older man (aren't most folks in SW FL older?!?!  Laugh out loud) who was vehemently complaining to me how expensive it was to fly KRSW-KMIA-KBOS and back. He suddenly realized that he come to that argument unprepared when I showed him on his original ticket that he was exchanging (two years old) that the fare had gone DOWN from about $194USD to about $165USD, booked using the EXACT same fare basis! There were many pax on frequent flyer award tickets in/out of KRSW/KAPF area, as well.

So, I guess a combination of high costs and low yields resulted in a lot of mainline service getting pulled out of KRSW in the mid-90's, and this was at a time when airlines were making some profits again after the early 90's economic downturn.

That's my .02 cents on the situation at KRSW. I still chat with my old GM there, and I don't believe that things have changed too much. Hopefully, the new terminal complex & second runway construction projects won't go way over the original budget this time!  Yeah sure

-J


"Keep thy airspeed up, less the earth come from below and smite thee." - William Kershner
 
citrusrsw
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2003 6:24 pm

RE: Why No Southwest Airlines At RSW?

Tue Dec 23, 2003 7:08 pm

Not enough room gates/ticket counter space.
They will be coming to RSW when the new terminal is finished with construction at the beginning of 2005. (was told this by airport ops)
 
Pe@rson
Posts: 16031
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2001 6:29 pm

RE: Why No Southwest Airlines At RSW?

Tue Dec 23, 2003 8:35 pm

"1) One runway. That hasn't stopped them before, but based on the traffic here one runway is very limiting."

LGW, the world's most busy single runway airport, copes OK with just one runway (it does have a second, but it's used as a taxiway). BHX, although less busy, copes fine (it does have an additional runway, although it is very seldom used). I very much doubt RSW is as busy as BHX so I don't see why one runway would be "very limiting."
"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
 
Petrouchka
Posts: 102
Joined: Mon Aug 23, 1999 5:28 pm

RE: Why No Southwest Airlines At RSW?

Tue Dec 23, 2003 8:41 pm

Agreed, Pe@rson. One runway hasn't stopped WN from being very active at SAN (which may not be as busy as LGW or BHX, but has to be one of the busiest single runway airports in the States).
 
727LOVER
Posts: 6801
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 12:22 am

RE: Why No Southwest Airlines At RSW?

Tue Dec 23, 2003 11:28 pm

Why No Southwest Airlines At RSW?

Well gee, why no Southwest Airlines at SRQ??

Or Spirit, Jetblue, Song, Airtran, Frontier


signed,

a jealous SRQ fan
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
ScottB
Posts: 5507
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2000 1:25 am

RE: Why No Southwest Airlines At RSW?

Wed Dec 24, 2003 5:44 am

Simple reasons really that have little to do with the terminal or airfield:

1. RSW has some of the most severe seasonal fluctuations in traffic of any airport in the nation. Peak traffic levels in March and April are 2.5 to 3 times as high as traffic levels in September and October. Southwest generally doesn't do much scheduling for seasonal variation aside from an extra Saturday flight here and there due to the extra costs in equipment, staffing, gates, etc.

2. Southwest specializes in short-haul flying; however, only one WN Florida station (JAX) is far enough away to justify flights (though I doubt JAX-RSW is a very popular route). TPA, MCO, FLL, and PBI are all too close to RSW; PBI-MCO was discontinued because driving takes less time.

If you take away the short-haul Florida stations, it gets tough to get to 10-12 daily frequencies; I could imagine 3 to BWI, 2 to ISP, 2 to MDW, 2 to MSY, 1 to BNA potentially, but it would be tough to fill those consistently. This roughly what PBI gets right now, and it has more population.

3. The catchment area population is significantly smaller than what you see at FLL, PBI, MCO, TPA, and JAX; this is part of why the traffic is so seasonal.

It is true that there's pretty much no room for WN at the current terminal, but I don't think gate space is truly what's keeping them out of RSW. I imagine, though, that they MIGHT go to RSW once they're more established at PHL and their ISP terminal is completed, but there are probably better opportunities in higher-fare markets right now.

As for SRQ, it's too close to TPA and my understanding is that the rents/landing fees there are among the highest in the country (which is not good given its traffic is primarily leisure-driven).
 
airways6max
Posts: 474
Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 6:22 am

RE: Why No Southwest Airlines At RSW?

Wed Dec 24, 2003 5:55 am

Why doesn't Southwest fly into ATL and Macon, GA? Why doesn't Southwest fly into JFK, GA / KLGA), USA - New York">LGA and EWR? Simply put, Southwest can't fly everywhere.
 
MaverickM11
Posts: 15456
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2000 1:59 pm

RE: Why No Southwest Airlines At RSW?

Wed Dec 24, 2003 7:00 am

WN will be there soon, most likely when the new terminal opens. They have made it very clear that they will 'own Florida' by 2005 so I'd be surprised if they didn't open RSW shortly after the new terminal opens.
E pur si muove -Galileo
 
Tiger119
Topic Author
Posts: 1593
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2003 1:52 pm

RE: Why No Southwest Airlines At RSW?

Wed Dec 24, 2003 9:48 am

I bet they (WN) could give TZ a run for the money out of MDW. TZ has three flights a day to MDW and two to IND. When RSW's new terminal is completed (2005?) I imagine they will start routes in and out of there. The current terminal is rumored to be future International Terminal.
Flying is the second greatest thrill known to mankind, landing is the first!

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