Winter is here!
Well, not really—it is 100 degrees in Dallas as we speak—but winter is now available to book at southwest.com, at 1-800-IFLYSWA, and via SABRE and Galileo. Winter—including Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hannukah, and New Years, is now bookable with America’s Largest Airline—and the only airline where “Fees Don’t Fly!” As usual, we’ve slipped a few new and interesting things into the Winter 2008/2009 Schedule. First, and perhaps most importantly, is what is not in the schedule. Unlike almost every other domestic U.S. airline, Southwest is not shrinking. We are not abandoning cities. We are not furloughing Employees. Instead, we’re tweaking what we’re offering to you guys—growing where we see opportunity, and eliminating flying that just hasn’t panned out the way we’d hoped, particularly with oil at $135 a barrel.
This November, in the midst of one of the worst airline industry downturns in history, Southwest Airlines has taken a scalpel to our schedule and looked at each and every flight in every market we serve flight to determine Customer demand and profitability. Even after that excercise, we will discontinue just two nonstop markets—Oakland-Tucson, and Kansas City-Sacramento. We’ll also reduce the number of daily departures in 27 markets, which is an incredibly minimal number. Still, we will retain service in all of our markets—meaning, you guys can still take advantage of the great Southwest service you love, even if it may be a onestop direct or a connection. Click here for a PDF file attachment showing frequencies in each of our markets and the changes coming up for November.
The BIG news is what we’re adding! We’re adding six new nonstop markets—and they’re concentrated on Denver and Florida. We’re adding new nonstop service between Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood and Albany, Kansas City, and La$ Vega$....between Ft. Myers and St. Louis….and between Denver and Orange County and Tulsa. We're also adding extra flights in 25 other markets, eleven of which start in Denver. Our new Florida service will make it easier for you guys to shake off that winter chill….and the new Denver service will add to our incredible success story in the Mile High City. Even though we only re-started service at Denver International Airport in January of ’06, we will have 115 daily departures from Denver each business day by the end of 2008. It’s the fastest we’ve ever grown a new Station in our 37 year old history. Southwest is LUVing Denver….and Denver is LUVing Southwest!
There is something else that is very important about this schedule. You may remember my story about the “Garage-o-mizer,” our original schedule optimization model (click here for the link). It is, in effect, a constraint-based model, one that constructed a schedule that met a list of constraints, or rules. However, given our schedule network, there are multiple possible schedule solutions—some better than others, some worse--so the Garage-o-mizer wasn’t looking for the the best schedule possible, just one that met all of the rules. The November 2008 schedule marks the debut of a new schedule optimizer, the new "Global optimizer"—one that takes all of our schedule rules and preferences and actually picks the one schedule that scores the absolute highest based on the input parameters we supply. Thousands of criteria are considered. For example, the Global optimizer actually looks to see what time passengers actually want to travel in every nonstop market we're in--folks want to leave Vegas for L.A. in the later afternoon, while they want to leave Baltimore/Washington for Orlando in the morning. All 800+ nonstop markets have their own, unique demand curves. This new algorigthm lets us match our schedule to exactly what you, our Customers, want!
The math behind the model is both complicated and daunting—but we are THRILLED with the output. And, as with the previous model, it was developed in house!!! (BIG shout outs to David, Jesus, and Jason from the Operations Research team in Southwest Airlines Technology Department!)
So—let the booking begin for the Holiday Season 2008. Plan those trips--book those reservations—and know that all of us here at Southwest, all 34,000+ of us, are trying our level best to do everything we can to be the very best airline on the planet for you. It’s HARD to be an airline these days, but we’re not straying from our mission, which is to provide the best value in air transporation in America. WITH NO ADDED FEES. Did I mention that already? ;)