Fargo
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How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:09 am

WN didn’t enter DIA until 2006 and only started growing significantly there within the last decade, but it is now on the verge of becoming their largest station, especially if they take all the new C gates.

Conventional wisdom suggests a carrier won’t do as well when the carrier raids a rivals hub (in this case, UA), but WN has been able to successfully build a large operation in DEN despite UA’s large hub. How is this so?
 
GmoneyCO
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:16 am

WN came in and grew during the Smiesk era at UA when domestic capacity shrank, especially at DEN. UA gave WN a big gift then. While WN has done well in DEN UAs recent focus on growing domestic operations has allowed UA to take back the a lot of the market share lost in WN during those years. Strong population growth in the Denver metro area has allowed both carriers to grow as well
 
mattnrsa
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:18 am

I think most of WN’s growth came at F9’s expense, as they are a fraction of the size they were 15 years ago, with significantly fewer gates on the A Concourse.
 
DfwRevolution
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:26 am

Fargo wrote:
WN didn’t enter DIA until 2006 and only started growing significantly there within the last decade, but it is now on the verge of becoming their largest station, especially if they take all the new C gates.

Conventional wisdom suggests a carrier won’t do as well when the carrier raids a rivals hub (in this case, UA), but WN has been able to successfully build a large operation in DEN despite UA’s large hub. How is this so?


WN needed a place to fly the jets that weren't flying into MSY after Hurricane Katrina.
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PSU.DTW.SCE
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:31 am

1) Strong growth of Denver metro area over the past 2 decades
2) UA neglecting its focus on its domestic network, amplied in DEN in the immediate post 9/11 era when they retired the 72S and 737 classics.
3) WN being aggresive against F9 who at the time was the new kid on the block but something that WN could easily steal market share away from
4) WN restructuring their operations around "we don't call them hubs but they act like hubs" and the draw down of a lot of p2p and multi-stop flights, particularly in the western US
5) Reallocating resources from a lot of the point-to-point, very short haul, and low-growth markets like ABQ to fund the growth at DEN

The WN build-up at DEN is very impressive over the years and was accomplished in almost a textbook like manner.
 
TTailedTiger
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:32 am

GmoneyCO wrote:
WN came in and grew during the Smiesk era at UA when domestic capacity shrank, especially at DEN. UA gave WN a big gift then. While WN has done well in DEN UAs recent focus on growing domestic operations has allowed UA to take back the a lot of the market share lost in WN during those years. Strong population growth in the Denver metro area has allowed both carriers to grow as well


Smisek is convenient to blame everything on but he had little to do with that. United had retired all of their 737's with no mainline replacement before Smisek and Continental joined them.
 
alggag
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:37 am

DfwRevolution wrote:
Fargo wrote:
WN didn’t enter DIA until 2006 and only started growing significantly there within the last decade, but it is now on the verge of becoming their largest station, especially if they take all the new C gates.

Conventional wisdom suggests a carrier won’t do as well when the carrier raids a rivals hub (in this case, UA), but WN has been able to successfully build a large operation in DEN despite UA’s large hub. How is this so?


WN needed a place to fly the jets that weren't flying into MSY after Hurricane Katrina.


Didn't it also roughly correspond with them drawing down PHL from its peak? I can't remember for certain.
 
727LOVER
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 5:30 am

For a while, WN was the largest carrier @ DEN....is THAT still true???
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
ctrabs0114
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 5:52 am

727LOVER wrote:
For a while, WN was the largest carrier @ DEN....is THAT still true???


Not as of April 2019 (year to date):

UA (Mainline and Regional): 9.1 million passengers/45.1 percent market share
UA Mainline ONLY: 6.55 million passengers/32.3 percent market share
WN: 5.76 million passengers/28.4 percent market share

It's possible that WN had a larger market share than UA Mainline, but not UA as a whole (UA & UAx). Also worth noting that the market share between UA Mainline and WN YTD in April 2018 was much closer (UA 30.3/WN 30.0), but I'd guess the 737 MAX groundings are negatively affecting WN's counts at DEN and most of it's larger stations.
2019: DAL, MCI, PHX, LAS, DFW, SAT, ORD, SLC, SEA, DTW, PHL, MIA, LAX; B73G (WN x3), B738 (WN, AA, DL), A20N (NK), MD83 (AA), B788 (AA x2), CS1 (DL), B739 (DL), B712 (DL), B752 (AA), B763 (AA), B77W (AA), B789 (AA)
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ctrabs0114
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 5:58 am

alggag wrote:
DfwRevolution wrote:
Fargo wrote:
WN didn’t enter DIA until 2006 and only started growing significantly there within the last decade, but it is now on the verge of becoming their largest station, especially if they take all the new C gates.

Conventional wisdom suggests a carrier won’t do as well when the carrier raids a rivals hub (in this case, UA), but WN has been able to successfully build a large operation in DEN despite UA’s large hub. How is this so?


WN needed a place to fly the jets that weren't flying into MSY after Hurricane Katrina.


Didn't it also roughly correspond with them drawing down PHL from its peak? I can't remember for certain.


I think the growth at BWI had more to do with WN drawing down PHL, though I'm not positive on the timeline. The AA/US merger which expanded AA's PHL hub might have come around the same time that WN gaining FL's larger operations at BWI, but don't quote me on it.
2019: DAL, MCI, PHX, LAS, DFW, SAT, ORD, SLC, SEA, DTW, PHL, MIA, LAX; B73G (WN x3), B738 (WN, AA, DL), A20N (NK), MD83 (AA), B788 (AA x2), CS1 (DL), B739 (DL), B712 (DL), B752 (AA), B763 (AA), B77W (AA), B789 (AA)
Next: TBA
 
mattnrsa
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:03 am

ctrabs0114 wrote:
727LOVER wrote:
For a while, WN was the largest carrier @ DEN....is THAT still true???


Not as of April 2019 (year to date):

UA (Mainline and Regional): 9.1 million passengers/45.1 percent market share
UA Mainline ONLY: 6.55 million passengers/32.3 percent market share
WN: 5.76 million passengers/28.4 percent market share

These figures are also from the time before UA’s schedule increase that took them above 500 flights for the time in the company’s history, including the launch of year-round service to FRA.
 
ctrabs0114
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:21 am

mattnrsa wrote:
ctrabs0114 wrote:
727LOVER wrote:
For a while, WN was the largest carrier @ DEN....is THAT still true???


Not as of April 2019 (year to date):

UA (Mainline and Regional): 9.1 million passengers/45.1 percent market share
UA Mainline ONLY: 6.55 million passengers/32.3 percent market share
WN: 5.76 million passengers/28.4 percent market share

These figures are also from the time before UA’s schedule increase that took them above 500 flights for the time in the company’s history, including the launch of year-round service to FRA.


I wasn't aware of UA's additions at DEN, so that does add more context to the passenger counts. Still, DEN seems to be WN's best performing station at competing legacy US3 hubs (I'm not factoring cities with US3 hubs at one airport and a WN hub at a secondary airport, i.e. Chicago ORD/MDW, Dallas DFW/DAL, Houston IAH/HOU or South Florida MIA/FLL) other than LAX.
2019: DAL, MCI, PHX, LAS, DFW, SAT, ORD, SLC, SEA, DTW, PHL, MIA, LAX; B73G (WN x3), B738 (WN, AA, DL), A20N (NK), MD83 (AA), B788 (AA x2), CS1 (DL), B739 (DL), B712 (DL), B752 (AA), B763 (AA), B77W (AA), B789 (AA)
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September11
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:12 am

WN’s digestion of ATA and AirTran furthered their DEN expansion in some ways?
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September11
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:49 am

Interesting Denver aviation fact: Southwest began service at Denver Stapleton in mid-1980s then withdrew (unsure how long Southwest stayed there)
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enilria
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:38 am

Fargo wrote:
WN didn’t enter DIA until 2006 and only started growing significantly there within the last decade, but it is now on the verge of becoming their largest station, especially if they take all the new C gates.

Conventional wisdom suggests a carrier won’t do as well when the carrier raids a rivals hub (in this case, UA), but WN has been able to successfully build a large operation in DEN despite UA’s large hub. How is this so?

F9 was weak. UA was not expanding. WN underwrote years of losses.
 
Mboyle1988
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:52 am

727LOVER wrote:
For a while, WN was the largest carrier @ DEN....is THAT still true???


They had the largest share of O and D traffic as of last year.
 
airfrnt
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:52 pm

So, let's separate this into two separate things - market factors and logistical factors. The market factors are fairly straight forward. Denver has a insane propensity to fly, because its so isolated from other major cities. In addition, the traffic in Denver was dominated by individual travelers who flew once or twice a year, and earned under 50k a year. When WN entered the market, they took a large amount of traffic from F9 and UA in that marketplace. It's also a factor of favorable behavior from the Hickenlooper administration, which saw WN's presence in Denver as the second carrier as much preferable

It's ironic to remember now, but WN almost bought F9 in bankruptcy. It's a very interesting what-if - what if WN had bought F9, how would their curve look differently?

Logistics wise, the biggest reason for WN's huge growth was the fact that while gates where leased to carriers, they are all city owned, and the city had immense flexibility to move carriers to other gates and other concourses to build critical mass as WN needed it. In addition, the midfield concourses had a lot fo room to grow - they were able to expand out C very cheaply for additional gates twice, and now they are doing a third expansion - which is much more significant as it takes each of the concourses in DEN to full capacity. I've heard that there is a aggressive bidding war for these gates right now.

The second big reason is that as WN switched from a P2P network to a hub network, Denver quickly because it's "hub of hubs". The mid-size stations fed into Denver, and provided a very nice set of options for hub-to-hub-to-point connections across their entire network. As WN improved frequency and options, it' traffic mix became more business oriented and more profitable, fueling more growth of the network, which improved frequency and options.

It's a very telling thing that AMEX has chosen to build their new Centurion Lounge on C, rather then A (has a sky-club currently, and will have the first US stateside Plaza Premium Lounge) and B (the worst United Clubs still left at their hubs). More and more traffic is shifting to C.

A third reason is that the geographic location, plus a very efficient airfield is a awesome advantage. American and Delta both sniff around possibly growing in Denver every five years or so. The old Stapleton and new DIA airports almost always are hub to three carriers, and only rarely two carriers.

United and WN have both said semi-publically that they expect DEN to be their biggest hub. F9 makes sounds every now and then about re-focusing on Denver, but the sheen came off F9 quite a while ago. For UA to grow Denver more significantly then they already are, they have to increase their international footprint, which they are loathe to do because of SFO and EWR and IAD.
 
UADiesel10
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:12 pm

September11 wrote:
Interesting Denver aviation fact: Southwest began service at Denver Stapleton in mid-1980s then withdrew (unsure how long Southwest stayed there)


It wasn’t long. If I recall, for a long time, wasn’t that the only station Southwest had ever closed? (Long before they acquired AirTran and closed a bunch of those stations, I mean.)
 
MIflyer12
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:16 pm

enilria wrote:
WN underwrote years of losses.


Can you point to evidence of that? Exec statements, SEC disclosures?
 
alggag
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:31 pm

UADiesel10 wrote:
September11 wrote:
Interesting Denver aviation fact: Southwest began service at Denver Stapleton in mid-1980s then withdrew (unsure how long Southwest stayed there)


It wasn’t long. If I recall, for a long time, wasn’t that the only station Southwest had ever closed? (Long before they acquired AirTran and closed a bunch of those stations, I mean.)


BPT (Beaumont, TX) was briefly served in the early days of Southwest. I'm pretty sure BPT's opening and closing predates service to Stapleton.

DET (City), and IAH are the other pre merger WN stations that have closed and never returned. SFO was dropped for a few years but has since returned.
 
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:37 pm

alggag wrote:

BPT (Beaumont, TX) was briefly served in the early days of Southwest. I'm pretty sure BPT's opening and closing predates service to Stapleton.

DET (City), and IAH are the other pre merger WN stations that have closed and never returned. SFO was dropped for a few years but has since returned.


JAN (Jackson, MS) was another.
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OzarkD9S
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:41 pm

enilria wrote:

F9 was weak. UA was not expanding. WN underwrote years of losses.


I flew WN STL-DEN-LAS during WN's big DEN growth spurt. The DEN connection was significantly cheaper than the nonstops or other connection options. IIRC around 30-40% cheaper. WN was clearly pushing pax through DEN at one point to boost traffic numbers at DEN.
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LAX772LR
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:44 pm

As mentioned earlier, DEN's initial growth spurt came when Katrina hit MSY, and WN found itself short of 60 daily flights and had to place the aircraft somewhere.

The market responded to their liking, so they continued to grow it at a breakneck pace.
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Cubsrule
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sat Jul 20, 2019 9:40 pm

LAX772LR wrote:
As mentioned earlier, DEN's initial growth spurt came when Katrina hit MSY, and WN found itself short of 60 daily flights and had to place the aircraft somewhere.

The market responded to their liking, so they continued to grow it at a breakneck pace.


It really was a fortuitous time. PHL was also drawing down. Some smaller hubs that have seen a lot of growth more recently (BNA, MDW) weren’t really growing. Several larger hubs (BWI, LAX) were gate-constrained.
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LAX772LR
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sat Jul 20, 2019 9:48 pm

Cubsrule wrote:
It really was a fortuitous time.

...for DEN.

Kinda sucked for the likes of MSY, who only recovered to similar levels of flights by WN two years ago... it took 12yrs for it to get back what it lost to DEN.
I myself, suspect a more prosaic motive... ~Thranduil
 
Cubsrule
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sat Jul 20, 2019 10:02 pm

LAX772LR wrote:
Cubsrule wrote:
It really was a fortuitous time.

...for DEN.

Kinda sucked for the likes of MSY, who only recovered to similar levels of flights by WN two years ago... it took 12yrs for it to get back what it lost to DEN.


Indeed. I never really understood that; MSY’s service on others recovered well (and added some in several cases).
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Mboyle1988
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sat Jul 20, 2019 10:02 pm

Southwest did not switch to a hub model. Their disclosures last year showed that 82% of passengers are OD and that number has remained consistent since the 80’s.
 
airlinewatcher1
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sat Jul 20, 2019 10:37 pm

Several factors contributed to WN's rapid growth in DEN. For many years, Denver was one of the largest U.S. markets that WN didn't serve. The Colorado Front Range is home to some 4 million people and growing. The economy is usually fairly strong in this area. Geographic isolation relative to other populated cities and states. DIA is also the only viable passenger airport in this entire area other than COS. UA was in a very weak position in the late 2000's and F9 wasn't strong enough to fend off an aggressive WN. This is in a nutshell why WN was able to expand so aggressively and quickly in DEN.

WN is not #1 in DEN today in terms of total passengers and daily departures, but is probably #1 in terms of O & D.

https://www.flydenver.com/about/financi ... er_traffic
 
WN732
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:11 am

OzarkD9S wrote:
alggag wrote:

BPT (Beaumont, TX) was briefly served in the early days of Southwest. I'm pretty sure BPT's opening and closing predates service to Stapleton.

DET (City), and IAH are the other pre merger WN stations that have closed and never returned. SFO was dropped for a few years but has since returned.


JAN (Jackson, MS) was another.


There's been a bunch in recent years. MEX (closing), DAY, ACK, and EYW.
 
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intotheair
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:50 am

enilria wrote:
F9 was weak. UA was not expanding. WN underwrote years of losses.


Best summary of what happened right there. WN returned to DEN just as UA was exiting bankruptcy and F9 was about to enter it. WN was in very good financial shape for an airline in the mid-2000s. Let's also not forget that WN even offered to buy F9.

The most surprising thing about it all is that all three airlines have more or less sustained major operations in DEN. I always thought F9 would either fold, WN would give up, or UA would severely downsize DEN.

UA has always remained the biggest (unless if you subtract UAX, in which case, you're probably trying to make a point about something). F9 has ebbed and flowed but appears to be holding steady for now.

YTD Passenger Numbers, April 2019 (April 2018 in parentheses)

UA – 9,146,677 (8,278,728)
WN – 5,763,020 (5,831,158)
F9 – 2,157,829 (2,099,943)
DL – 1,110,875 (1,065,347)
AA – 1,019,806 (1,041,382)

April 2019 Market Share (2018 in parentheses)

UA – 45.1% (42.7%)
WN – 28.4% (30.0%)
F9 – 10.6% (10.8%)
DL – 5.5% (5.5%)
AA – 5.0% (5.4%)

https://www.flydenver.com/sites/default ... Denver.pdf
300 319 320 321 332 333 345 346 380 717 733 734 735 73G 738 739 744 752 753 762 763 772 77W 788 789 CR2 CR7 CR9 CRK Q400 E175 DC10 MD82 MD90
AA AF AS AY AZ B6 BA BR DL F9 FI GA HA KF LH MI QX SK SN SQ UA US VY WN
 
fry530
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:03 am

IIRC, Southwest started DEN around late 2005-2006? The economy and population were growing in Denver and F9 and UA were starting to struggle. They came in and added a ton of routes and offered great service. Flying them vs UA or F9 was much more appealing since they suddenly were flying non-stop to most of the same cities. Free checked bags, good prices, and friendly staff made it so easy. They realized that they could come into a market that was not only growing, but isolated geographically and also great for connections. Both transfer and O&D were there and the competition for each wasn't that strong.

Speaking as a Denverite, seeing WN grow here was insane. It felt like they came in out of nowhere and had all of the sudden taken over. I honestly think it is part of why F9 has become the ULCC they are. UA at least could fill the front of the plane from Denver, which probably was enough to keep their hub afloat. WN stole the market F9 had spent a decade establishing. UA is only now starting to really compete with WN in DEN again. But as a DEN based flyer, it has been great. We have at least four different airlines going between any major city pair, and for the other ones at least three. You can fly non-stop almost anywhere in the country and prices are usually reasonable.

In short, WN was smart and took advantage of an opportunity to capture connecting and O&D traffic in a growing market. Us locals are happy.
319 320 32N 321 332 333 722 733 735 73G 738 739 744 752 763 772 77W CR2 CR7 Q400 E145 E170 DC10 MD80
AA BA BD CO DL EI F9 HP NW NZ UA U2 WN Y4
 
sprxUSA
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 4:48 am

WN732 wrote:
OzarkD9S wrote:
alggag wrote:

BPT (Beaumont, TX) was briefly served in the early days of Southwest. I'm pretty sure BPT's opening and closing predates service to Stapleton.

DET (City), and IAH are the other pre merger WN stations that have closed and never returned. SFO was dropped for a few years but has since returned.


JAN (Jackson, MS) was another.


There's been a bunch in recent years. MEX (closing), DAY, ACK, and EYW.


I assume you meant CAK, not Nantucket LOL. FNT (Flint, MI) as well.
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ctrabs0114
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 5:03 am

alggag wrote:
UADiesel10 wrote:
September11 wrote:
Interesting Denver aviation fact: Southwest began service at Denver Stapleton in mid-1980s then withdrew (unsure how long Southwest stayed there)


It wasn’t long. If I recall, for a long time, wasn’t that the only station Southwest had ever closed? (Long before they acquired AirTran and closed a bunch of those stations, I mean.)


BPT (Beaumont, TX) was briefly served in the early days of Southwest. I'm pretty sure BPT's opening and closing predates service to Stapleton.

DET (City), and IAH are the other pre merger WN stations that have closed and never returned. SFO was dropped for a few years but has since returned.


I wouldn't put DET/IAH in the same category as BPT as far as pre-FL merger station closings are concerned.

WN began service at DTW in 1987 and, for a few years, operated from both DTW and DET before WN left DET in 1993. WN also operated from both IAH and HOU in two separate periods (1971-1972 and 1980-2005) before permanently shifting all ops to HOU in 2005.

The same could be said about SFO, in that when WN initially left SFO in 2001 (returning in 2007), they also operated out of OAK (where they have a base) and SJC, so the Bay Area wasn't entirely unserved by WN.

In those three cases, WN left an airport, but not the market entirely. Where WN's departure from Stapleton in 1986 differs is that Denver went without WN service until they launched service to DIA (DEN) in 2006.

WN also served Jackson Hole (JAC) for the 1985-1986 winter season, but service ceased after that (it sounds like that coincided with WN's departure from Stapleton, which leads me to believe that there was only DEN-JAC service offered by WN; don't quote me on that, though).
2019: DAL, MCI, PHX, LAS, DFW, SAT, ORD, SLC, SEA, DTW, PHL, MIA, LAX; B73G (WN x3), B738 (WN, AA, DL), A20N (NK), MD83 (AA), B788 (AA x2), CS1 (DL), B739 (DL), B712 (DL), B752 (AA), B763 (AA), B77W (AA), B789 (AA)
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Aliqiout
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:21 pm

Mboyle1988 wrote:
Southwest did not switch to a hub model. Their disclosures last year showed that 82% of passengers are OD and that number has remained consistent since the 80’s.

Their steady rate of connections doesn't mean they haven't switched. They have moved more towards connecting their passengers in a few major hubs like the big three, from connections in random cities that just happen to be on the way.

They are certainly still less hub reliant than the big three, but now you are much more likely to be offered a connection in a hub, like DEN or MDW than an airport like ELP or GEG as in the past.
 
Rdh3e
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:52 pm

Their DEN hub is about 66% local (on passenger segments), that is above average for the system which is about 63% now.

The quote about "80%" is probably referring to individual customers which makes sense but also skews the number higher compared to what is actually on the plane.

Just to show what I'm talking about, 80% local "individual passengers" = 66% local "passenger segments"

10 * .8 = 8 local segments
10 * .2 * 2 = 4 flow segments (assuming single connects)

8 / (8 + 4) = 66%
 
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:27 pm

I'm hearing COS was supposed to be WN's initial entry into Colorado, but they got into a dispute with the city regarding road access and went to DEN instead. Anyone know this history?
 
MR27122
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:09 pm

UADiesel10 wrote:
September11 wrote:
Interesting Denver aviation fact: Southwest began service at Denver Stapleton in mid-1980s then withdrew (unsure how long Southwest stayed there)


It wasn’t long. If I recall, for a long time, wasn’t that the only station Southwest had ever closed? (Long before they acquired AirTran and closed a bunch of those stations, I mean.)


SW "Part 1" in Denver was in the 1980's & thus Denver Stapleton....I think. Stepleton was overwhelmed w/ UA-CO-Frontier....add in a little "weather"....and Denver Stapleton was---again I think---unworkable re: the SW "model" @ the time (10 min turns) & serving a region via a secondary airport thus staying away from Legacy Hubs &/or heavy congestion airports. I've no clue how long and/or if SW serves COS...but, again I think...COS wasn't an ideal "Southwest Effect" airport @ the time (3 airlines @ Stapleton w/ hubs & low fares, 70 miles drive south, and I don't think COS had many---or any---airline flights to ski-resorts, in the 1980's pax would connect in Denver to puddle jumpers to Aspen, Vail, Steamboat etc----all those cumbersome ski's being off/on loaded couldn't have helped 10 min ops either :smile: !!)

Disclaimer: I've no factual reference for above, it's vague recollect.
Last edited by MR27122 on Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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DL717
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:11 pm

Fargo wrote:
WN didn’t enter DIA until 2006 and only started growing significantly there within the last decade, but it is now on the verge of becoming their largest station, especially if they take all the new C gates.

Conventional wisdom suggests a carrier won’t do as well when the carrier raids a rivals hub (in this case, UA), but WN has been able to successfully build a large operation in DEN despite UA’s large hub. How is this so?


United was floundering and Frontier was imploding. Up to their entry, Southwest had been ridiculously lazy about it, if not asleep at the wheel. They should have been in Denver ages ago. MSY gave them the assets to expand more rapidly. Katrina happened in August. Southwest didn’t enter Denver until January 2006.
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BuzzmeSTL
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:34 pm

I was always under the impression that WN grew initially at DEN by moving its hub from SLC...which it had acquired by buying Morris Air, and growing it from there. They were always averse to DEN because of high fees at the new DEN.

I always interpret it as being their old SLC hub.
 
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flyingclrs727
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:32 pm

DL717 wrote:
Fargo wrote:
WN didn’t enter DIA until 2006 and only started growing significantly there within the last decade, but it is now on the verge of becoming their largest station, especially if they take all the new C gates.

Conventional wisdom suggests a carrier won’t do as well when the carrier raids a rivals hub (in this case, UA), but WN has been able to successfully build a large operation in DEN despite UA’s large hub. How is this so?


United was floundering and Frontier was imploding. Up to their entry, Southwest had been ridiculously lazy about it, if not asleep at the wheel. They should have been in Denver ages ago. MSY gave them the assets to expand more rapidly. Katrina happened in August. Southwest didn’t enter Denver until January 2006.


It wouldn't have worked before Stapleton was closed in 1995. Also, there were serious problems with operations especially the baggage system for the first couple of years after the new airport opened.

The 737NG fleet didn't start arriving at WN till 1997. Remember it was the ability of the A320 series to fly anywhere on the contiguous United States to or from DEN that caused UA to switch to Airbus for its new narrow bodies in the early 1990's. It was this defection from Boeing by the North American 737 launch customer that spurred Boeing to launch the 737NG which entailed both reengining and rewinging the 737. It wasn't till the early 2000's that there were enough 737-700's in the fleet to allow WN to use DEN to connect any of its destinations together.

The thinning of UA's narrow body fleet didn't happen till after 9/11/2001, so UA could have entered into a fare war at DEN to keep WN from getting a toe hold. Just how long is the "ages ago" that WN should have started operations a DEN? Katrina was the perfect storm that caused WN to need to reevaluate its business model and find a new market where it could relocate significant portions of its fleet. By 2006, the new DEN was still a new airport with lots of available capacity, but had fixed the operational problems that plagued it when it first opened. WN also had a large enough subfleet of NG's that were better suited to operating out of DEN.
 
jplatts
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:51 pm

Fargo wrote:
Conventional wisdom suggests a carrier won’t do as well when the carrier raids a rivals hub (in this case, UA), but WN has been able to successfully build a large operation in DEN despite UA’s large hub. How is this so?


WN already had brand loyalty outside of DEN that allowed WN to grow in DEN so quickly. There is also a significant amount of leisure traffic to Colorado from most of the other markets that were served by WN at the time of WN's entry into Denver International Airport.

In addition to brand loyalty outside of DEN and significant leisure traffic to Colorado from most of the markets served by WN, WN could also offer connections to and from destinations west of the Rocky Mountains through DEN.

WN also has a big presence in the Baltimore/DC, Chicago, Greater Los Angeles, and San Francisco Bay markets, even with AA hubs at ORD, LAX, and DCA, DL hub at LAX, and UA hubs at IAD, ORD, LAX, and SFO.

Even though WN doesn't have as big of a presence in the Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix markets than it does in Baltimore/DC, Chicago, Denver, Greater Los Angeles, or the San Francisco Bay Area, ATL, DAL, HOU, and PHX are 4 of the largest WN focus cities. In these 4 markets, DL has its main hub at ATL, AA has hubs at DFW and PHX, and UA has a hub at IAH.
 
FlyHossD
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 4:07 pm

A few comments...

Yes, WN served DEN/Stapleton in the early 80's - 1981 or '82 as I recall. Their service lasted about a year (I worked at DEN at the time).

IMHO, WN's large presence at DEN today is the result of seizing an opportunity. F9 was still relatively new and unstable and not able to go head-to-head with WN for long. UA had withered domestically under Tilton (parking all the 737 Classics in favor of 70 seat RJs) and then after the merger, Smisek wasn't willing to compete. For example, the morning DEN-PDX changed from a 184 seat 757 to a 50 seat CRJ-200 because Smisek saw competition as a costly battle he shouldn't attempt (WN and F9 were also flyng DEN-PDX). In those days, it seemed like UA would be afraid to compete with a Part 135 operator flying a Cessna.

So all-in-all, it was a window of opportunity that WN grabbed and as the Denver metro area blossomed, their timing was nearly perfect.
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Fargo
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:39 pm

Here's the thing though, why was DEN growing prior to WN's entry?

Reading some of these comments makes it seem like UA/F9 were struggling mightily in the mid-2000s to the point where they couldn't grow DEN at all. Yet, passenger traffic surged to a then-record 43,387,369 the year before WN entered the market.
 
tphuang
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:34 am

What WN did in DEN is really impressive. I'm sure they lost their shirts off building it up in the early days, but they are now able to sustain a megahub after those investment with plenty of room for growth. Given where it is now, this has to be one of the most impressive buildups in their history along with BWI and MDW and intra-cali market.

BNA should be the next chapter in their story. I would not bet against them turning it into a 200-flight station.
 
Fargo
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Mon Jul 22, 2019 2:57 am

tphuang wrote:
BNA should be the next chapter in their story. I would not bet against them turning it into a 200-flight station.


Absolutely BNA should one day be on par with BWI, MDW, DEN, LAS, etc. It makes a lot of sense. While it doesn’t (yet) have the O&D levels of those markets, it is the only viable market for WN to have a large presence in the southeast. ATL just faces too much competition from a much bigger and more connected DL hub and Florida is too far south and ultra competitive.

Gate space at BNA may be an issue for them in the near term though. WN is gaining the new Concourse D with its six gates being built next year, but is temporarily losing a few on Concourse C while the new IAB is built. The next expansion following the current work will rebuild all of Concourse A into a new configuration with up to 10 new gates, as well as add three additional gates onto D. They haven’t explicitly stated it, but I strongly suspect the long term plan is for AA (which is on C as well) to move to the rebuilt A and for WN to take all of C and D. This would give WN up to 28 gates at BNA (not counting the CUTE swing international/domestic gates), making 200+ flights doable.
 
737max8
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:01 pm

Fargo wrote:
tphuang wrote:
BNA should be the next chapter in their story. I would not bet against them turning it into a 200-flight station.


Absolutely BNA should one day be on par with BWI, MDW, DEN, LAS, etc. It makes a lot of sense. While it doesn’t (yet) have the O&D levels of those markets, it is the only viable market for WN to have a large presence in the southeast. ATL just faces too much competition from a much bigger and more connected DL hub and Florida is too far south and ultra competitive.

Gate space at BNA may be an issue for them in the near term though. WN is gaining the new Concourse D with its six gates being built next year, but is temporarily losing a few on Concourse C while the new IAB is built. The next expansion following the current work will rebuild all of Concourse A into a new configuration with up to 10 new gates, as well as add three additional gates onto D. They haven’t explicitly stated it, but I strongly suspect the long term plan is for AA (which is on C as well) to move to the rebuilt A and for WN to take all of C and D. This would give WN up to 28 gates at BNA (not counting the CUTE swing international/domestic gates), making 200+ flights doable.


How many gates does WN have at BNA currently? They already do 195 flights out of 17.5 gates @ DAL.
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Fargo
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:13 pm

737max8 wrote:
Fargo wrote:
tphuang wrote:
BNA should be the next chapter in their story. I would not bet against them turning it into a 200-flight station.


Absolutely BNA should one day be on par with BWI, MDW, DEN, LAS, etc. It makes a lot of sense. While it doesn’t (yet) have the O&D levels of those markets, it is the only viable market for WN to have a large presence in the southeast. ATL just faces too much competition from a much bigger and more connected DL hub and Florida is too far south and ultra competitive.

Gate space at BNA may be an issue for them in the near term though. WN is gaining the new Concourse D with its six gates being built next year, but is temporarily losing a few on Concourse C while the new IAB is built. The next expansion following the current work will rebuild all of Concourse A into a new configuration with up to 10 new gates, as well as add three additional gates onto D. They haven’t explicitly stated it, but I strongly suspect the long term plan is for AA (which is on C as well) to move to the rebuilt A and for WN to take all of C and D. This would give WN up to 28 gates at BNA (not counting the CUTE swing international/domestic gates), making 200+ flights doable.


How many gates does WN have at BNA currently? They already do 195 flights out of 17.5 gates @ DAL.


They have 14 currently. Next year they’ll gain all 6 of the new D gates, but will lose a few C gates temporarily while the new IAB is built. This will leave them with about 16. After the IAB is built, they should gain back at least two giving them 18, then they’ll have to wait for A to be rebuilt so AA can move out and they take the rest of C.
 
jplatts
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:24 pm

fry530 wrote:
Speaking as a Denverite, seeing WN grow here was insane. It felt like they came in out of nowhere and had all of the sudden taken over. I honestly think it is part of why F9 has become the ULCC they are. UA at least could fill the front of the plane from Denver, which probably was enough to keep their hub afloat. WN stole the market F9 had spent a decade establishing. UA is only now starting to really compete with WN in DEN again. But as a DEN based flyer, it has been great. We have at least four different airlines going between any major city pair, and for the other ones at least three. You can fly non-stop almost anywhere in the country and prices are usually reasonable.


There are still some destinations served by both WN and F9 that currently have nonstop service out of DEN on F9 but not on WN such as BHM, CLT, DSM, GSP, HRL, LIT, PWM, PVD, DCA, and ICT.
 
afcjets
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:42 pm

airfrnt wrote:
Logistics wise, the biggest reason for WN's huge growth was the fact that while gates where leased to carriers, they are all city owned, and the city had immense flexibility to move carriers to other gates and other concourses to build critical mass as WN needed it. In addition, the midfield concourses had a lot fo room to grow - they were able to expand out C very cheaply for additional gates twice, and now they are doing a third expansion - which is much more significant as it takes each of the concourses in DEN to full capacity. I've heard that there is a aggressive bidding war for these gates right now..



flyingclrs727 wrote:
It wouldn't have worked before Stapleton was closed in 1995.


The only major US airport to be built after DIA in 1995 was the new AUS in 1999, which unlike DIA is not a hub yet. No two airports except perhaps RSW and DFW have that much room for expansion, which are also relatively speaking newer airports and the two largest ones in the US.
 
ptcflyer
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Re: How was WN able to grow in DEN so quickly?

Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:51 pm

"Bags Fly Free" has been a great benefit to baggage ladened skiers! That helps!

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