Southwest Airlines adds 4 new routes this winter, expanding Denver, Nashville bases

Aug 15, 2020

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Southwest Airlines does not hesitate to add routes connecting cities across its sprawling U.S. domestic map even as the coronavirus pandemic takes a big bite out of its business.

The Dallas-based discounter unveiled four new routes from Denver (DEN), Nashville (BNA), San Diego (SAN) and Washington Reagan National (DCA) this winter in its latest schedule update through April 2021, according to Cirium schedules. These connections join new service to mountain destination Steamboat Springs, Colorado (HDN) that begins in December.

Southwest will connect Denver and Charlotte (CLT) from Dec. 18; Nashville and San Juan (SJU) on weekends from March 13, 2021 through April 11, 2021; San Diego and Norfolk (ORF) from Jan. 5, 2021; and Washington and West Palm Beach (PBI) from Jan. 5, 2021, Cirium shows.

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Interested travelers can buy tickets for as low as $105 one-way between Washington and West Palm Beach, to $201 one-way between Nashville and San Juan, according to Southwest’s website.

While none of the new routes will return Southwest’s schedules to pre-COVID-19 levels, they will make it just a little bit easier to travel around the country.

The airline plans to be about a quarter smaller at the end of the year than it was at the end of 2019, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in July. These cuts are the result of the plateaued recovery in air travel since the end of June.

Related: Southwest unveils Steamboat Springs routes, adds new destination during pandemic

Data from trade group Airlines for America (A4A) shows domestic air traffic down around 58% compared to 2019 during the week ending Aug. 11. This is a slight improvement from July but not expected to last as leisure travel slows down after the Labor Day holiday.

Denver and Nashville, where two of the new routes land, are growing bases for Southwest. In February, the carrier inked a deal for 16 additional gates in Denver that will bring its total to 40 in the Mile High City. Executives have said they plan to grow into the gates over the next few years; those plans remain in place since COVID-19 but will happen at a slower pace.

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

In Nashville, Southwest opened the new six-gate Concourse D in July. While only netting it two additional gates as the airport continues work on a major expansion, the carrier anticipates needing the added space by the end of the year.

Southwest’s new routes this winter, plus ones that begin in the fall, come even as it plans to prune more than 100 nonstop connections from its map. Additional changes are likely as the airline continues to adjust its schedules based on travel demand within weeks of operating flight due to the pandemic.

Related: Southwest Airlines backtracks on a full schedule by year-end as recovery stalls

Featured image by John Gress Media Inc/Shutterstock.

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