[quote="sldispatcher"]Out of curiosity as a casual WN observer, their recent adds are not exactly in the mold of traditional WN. Is it me, or is there some correlation with the number of destinations/flights that G4 might have in a market that start to play into this or is that completely misguided on my part?[/Mike Linenberg
Great. That context was very helpful. Just my second question to Andrew, with the cities, 10 that have been announced, I think, out of 17, interesting, when you think back historically, Southwest was an airline that was very sort of tactical and methodical and sort of additions, maybe one, two a year, maybe some years, no cities. And now all of a sudden, the deluge of cities, and some of these are actually small markets. And if I think back to Southwest in the past, some small markets, the Company historically may have struggled. What -- it sounds like the ramp-up is going fairly well. Andrew, maybe what has changed that you feel much stronger in moving into some of these smaller markets and more quickly? Maybe it’s just the pandemic. You strike when the iron is hot, maybe it’s the density of the Southwest network, small cities can plug in and you can turn on and be successful far easier today than the Southwest of 10 years ago? Maybe I answered the question. But, if you could just give us some color because this is kind of a different mode for Southwest with respect to new city development.
Certainly, I’ll be happy to answer, and Tom, feel free to join in. We are methodical. And so, prior to the pandemic, we have a practice every year of going through and looking at every place we could fly our aircraft and evaluating them at least in desktop, if not in-person visit. So, all these cities were ones that were known to us and evaluated prior to the pandemic. And so, when the pandemic, as Gary talked about, we’re unsure about the pace of business travel return. And so, because we have a lot of business travelers, if they were not to return in a timely manner, we would have a shortfall in revenue activity to deploy our people and assets against, and with the operating leverage model, you don’t want that. So, we want to make sure we have enough new cities to cover any potential shortfall in that return. So, that led us to go at a bigger scale than normal.
The cities we chose, we chose also to have a low-risk as far as our maturation. And we’ve been in plenty of small cities for a long time. So, our Western Texas cities and Pac Northwest cities, they’re modest, and we do quite well, Upstate New York. And the key is the small city that is relevant to a place where we have a large customer base. And so, if you look at all these small cities, they’re either in marquee destinations under themselves or they’re relevant to a nearby large Southwest city, where we have a large customer base who would be big purchasers of tickets to these small cities. And so, that’s what’s important to us. And then we want to make sure we go in with at least a level of flight activity that allows for crew efficiencies so that we have origination and terminators that make us not to have crude deadhead that would undermine inefficiency. So, all those things must come together for us to add those new cities. So, I think we’re prepared and it fits with our model, I think, is the answer.
Hey Mike. And I just want to pile on very quickly. If we kind of reconcile to 1992 when you work on our secondary offering in those states, if you remember our rule of thumb, but it’s -- we didn’t want to go into a city in the early 1990s, unless we thought we could do, let’s say, 8 departures a day. And so, I wouldn’t translate what we’re doing with these 17 cities as being a violation of even that old rule of thumb, because some of these "small cities," I think, Andrew -- I won’t name names because we may not want to telegraph yet, but there are a handful that I can think of that you might think are small. We’re thinking there are going to be a dozen or more daily departures, into a number of nonstop destinations. So, if you think, the fact that we now have such a large U.S. presence, it makes a lot of these “smaller markets” much more viable today in terms of flight activity than it did 30 years ago.
But, the other thing I would point out is that Miami isn’t small. Bush isn’t small. Colorado Springs isn’t small. O’Haire is not small. So, we do have a few cities that have three or four daily departures on the route map. And I would -- Mike would call those small. And we have experience with them, and we know that they can work. I don’t think that that means that every city like that would work. But, anyway, it’s -- we have been delighted that we could actually have the capacity to put them on the route network here. I got asked earlier today about whether we’ll continue this. And I think Andrew is going to need -- assuming that we continue on our recovery path, he’s going to need to take a lot of these airplanes and put them back into restoring flight activity into our existing network. So, that will challenge our ability to continue doing this play, but they’re permanent adds, and we’re delighted with the performance that we’re seeing.
I think, at least just to give a little more -- this is one question, so we’ll move on quickly. So, we’ve got about 45 aircraft or so, Andrew, I think, committed to the new states so far, about 8% of the trips. But as I talk about the business demand thawing, as it begins to thaw, we’re going to need to begin to get our network back in business travel shape. And just to give you a little view, I guess people are asking -- ask us, so what does the -- so when does the network get back to normal? Well, the network is not going to get back to what it was because we had 17 new cities on the network. But, what I can tell you is, when you think about the principles in the characteristics of the Southwest network, those will be intact. Point-to-point, you should expect to see a very similar mix of short, medium, long, a similar mix of direct and connecting traffic. And our focus, once we begin to see business on unthaw is we got to begin to put the depth back into the markets like the St. Louis and Milwaukee’s and intra-Cal [ph] business markets and such. So, it’s going to be an interesting. But that’s also why we’re getting more aircraft. So, we’re going to retire some, going to have some incrementals. So, it’s going to take time, which is fine because business traffic is not going to show up on one Sunday and all of a sudden it’s back. It’s going to take time, and we’ll begin to build our fleet back in our network depth back. You spurred a lively topic their Linenberg. So, thank you.
My Wings are clipped just another Retired Airline person. The Ultimate Armchair out of the loop airline industry geek. Aloha Mr Hand!