But the open ramps that serve as gates are space-limited, so the mainline aircraft would tend to get crowded for ramp space if WN were to return.
IIRC, ramp space was a huge issue for WN at EYW. Didn't they only have space to park 1 737 at a time, yet with all 3 daily flights (MCO/MSY/TPA-EYW) arriving into the tiny airport around the same time, the poor pax on the third and final 737 had to wait on the tarmac for the previous two WN planes to unload and then depart the airline's only parking spot? Obviously EYW was never designed with mainline jet traffic in mind - and I doubt AA and DL were eager to make room for a new LCC competitor.
Now, perhaps this is as silly a question as suggesting flights into APT and BCT, but could nearby NQX (Naval Air Station Key West) ever become a joint military/commercial aviation facility for the Florida Keys? That 10,000 ft runway at NQX would sure open up a lot of commercial airline possibilities for the keys! The existing EYW facility could then be repurposed for commercial and/or residential purposes - a *very* rare opportunity for major development in Key West.
Lastly, for whatever reason, WN tried to make EYW work for their network and it just didn't pan out for them. I really doubt they will come back to EYW.
The other issue for WN at EYW was apparently wet runway operations. However, this could very well have been a scheduling issue on WN's part. WN should have known better than to schedule three midday EYW turns in a tropical monsoon climate off of a short runway (never mind the prevailing lack of ramp space discussed previously). Anyone familiar with Florida would know that a typical hot, humid summer day is characterized by a generally brief but torrential afternoon downpour. Lightning will probably shut down ramp operations during this time, and of course the short runway would be problematic after all the rain. Smarter scheduling probably could have prevented A LOT of the operational headaches for WN at EYW. Had WN scheduled all of its flights in the morning and/or evening, rather than the stormy (during hurricane season) afternoons, EYW might very well have been much more successful. Sure, WN flights might not have matched hotel check-in/check-out times, but lest we not forget that Key West is *exactly* the kind of place where travelers aren't going to mind hanging out at a bar before (or until) their flights, whenever they may be...
Also, WN still wasn't flexible enough to have a fully seasonal station back then. I can't help but wonder if most of the problems WN faced at EYW (however self-inflicted they may have been) occurred between June and October - a time of year when relatively few tourists would typically want to go to the Florida Keys anyways. Maybe operating EYW seasonally would be best for commercial as well as operational reasons?
Last edited by SurfandSnow
on Fri Nov 13, 2020 4:59 am, edited 5 times in total.