Southwest adds another new Colorado ski town, unveils Miami and Palm Springs routes

Oct 8, 2020

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Southwest Airlines is betting travelers want to buckle up their ski boots and hit the slopes this winter with what appears to be plans for new service to Montrose, the second Colorado ski town to join its map during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dallas-based carrier will offer seasonal flights between Montrose (MTJ) and both Dallas Love Field (DAL) and Denver (DEN) beginning Dec. 19 through April 5, 2021, according to the flight-booking tool on the Southwest website. The Dallas route will operate once a day on weekends and the Denver route up to three time daily.

“Southwest is stretching into new places to provide for two needs,” Southwest chief commercial officer Andrew Watterson said in a statement released several hours after the flights were first visible online. “Desired options for our customers who seek snow or sun, and wide-open spaces… and for our company, critically-needed new business that offsets the diminished demand for travel across other parts of the country.”

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Both Montrose and Steamboat Springs (HDN) — flights to the latter were previously unveiled — increase Southwest’s offering of outdoor winter destinations. They come at a time when most of the few travelers who are taking to the air continue to be holidaygoers looking for outdoors-oriented activities where they can social distance.

Montrose brings the number of new cities joining the Southwest map this winter to four. Miami (MIA) flights and Palm Springs (PSP) flights begin Nov. 15, according to the airline’s website.

Southwest’s intended Miami service includes:

  • Baltimore/Washington (BWI): up to four flights daily
  • Chicago Midway (MDW): one flight daily
  • Houston Hobby (HOU): up to four flights daily
  • Tampa (TPA): up to three flights daily

Related: Southwest Airlines CEO says Miami push part of long-term strategy, not ‘pandemic play’

The carrier’s planned Palm Springs service includes:

  • Denver: one flight daily
  • Oakland (OAK): up to two flights daily
  • Phoenix (PHX): up to three flights daily

Travelers can book the new flights to Miami, Montrose and Palm Springs on Southwest’s website.

Related: Southwest Airlines is using the coronavirus to solidify its dominance in California

In addition to the new destinations, Southwest has begun adding some new routes to its schedule next spring. One will be a new daily flight between Hartford (BDL) and Nashville (BNA) from March. The resumption — Cirium schedules show Southwest flew the route from 1999 to 2011 — follows the announcement by JetBlue of four new routes an ambition to be the largest airline in Connecticut.

Southwest expanded its footprint in Nashville into the new Concourse D in July.

Related: Southwest moves to new digs at Nashville with opening of Concourse D

In September, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told TPG that both the Miami and Palm Springs additions are part of an effort by the airline  to diversify its revenue streams amid the historic drop in travel demand. As primarily winter destinations, both offer flying opportunities during an otherwise slower period for air travel.

“We won’t have a lot of flights but we should have sufficient demand on those flights to contribute cash in this environment,” he said.

Any revenue is key as airlines face the worst crisis in their history. On Oct. 5, Kelly told staff that Southwest was poised to lose “billions” of dollars without a substantial recovery in air travel. Barring additional federal aid — something that appears on hold until after the Nov. 3 election — the airline is seeking concessions from unions to avoid furloughs.

TPG Q&A: Southwest CEO Gary Kelly chats about his legacy, new cities and change fees

Updated with details on Southwest’s statement and the new Hartford-Nashville route.

Featured photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.




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