I strongly disagree with your characterization of Texas as WN
's "stepchild." You make it out to seem like WN
is gouging Texas customers and dominating its markets. This is clearly not the case. I'd bet that 90% of Texans love WN
and what its done for their cities. Without WN
, places like MAF
, and HRL would probably have no mainline air service. Likewise, fares between major Texas cities such as Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso would be much higher. Overall, WN
has been great for Texas. In addition, air travel competition in Texas is better than most states. With three major airlines criscrossing the state, I'd say Texas has better intra-state service than just about any other state, except maybe
California and Florida. The Texas state legislature has repeatedly commended WN
for its efforts in Texas, and rightly so.
As far as adding service in Texas, I think it's doubtful. Of the three cities you mentioned, Laredo is probably the most likely to get service. Given its distance from major Texas cities, it's probably the most underserved with respect to air service (with only AAEagle and COEx). However, Abilene and Wichita Falls are pipe dreams when it comes to WN
service. I'm originally from Abilene, and officials there attempted to lure WN
for a long time. However, even they realize that WN
isn't going to serve such a small market. Lubbock, Amarillo, and Midland-Odessa are all twice the size of Abilene, and for people in those three markets, driving to DFW
is not an option. People in these places will often fly just to get to Dallas for business meetings, etc. People in Abilene, who can be in Ft. Worth in just over two hours, won't do this, given the hassle and cost of flying. People in Wichita Falls are even closer, and less likely to do so.
That being said, ABI
is doing well as an airport. It's just completed a renovation, and COEx has upgraded one of its daily IAH
flights to an ERJ. I expect AAEagle to bring in more RJs, and if things go well, maybe even a third carrier could start ABI
service within a year or two.
As for SPS
, things don't look good. It's just too small and too close to DFW
. A few months ago, when CO
re-started service to several Texas cities (ABI
, SJT, TYR, ACT
, TXK, ILE, VCT), it did not start service to SPS
. People in this market simply don't mind driving to Dallas for their air service.