Southwest adds Austin flights, boosts presence in hyper-competitive market
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Editor’s note: the new flights mentioned below now start on Oct. 7, as opposed to the November timeframe originally outlined in the story.
Southwest Airlines’ latest route-map adjustment includes good news for Austin.
The Dallas-based carrier is adding a new route from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Oklahoma City (OKC), as well as boosting service to four existing destinations, including Lubbock, Texas (LBB); Kansas City, Missouri (MCI); Long Beach, California (LGB); and El Paso, Texas (ELP).
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Daily service to Oklahoma City will begin on Nov. 7, aboard one of Southwest’s Boeing 737-700s. For now, the route is slated to run through on Jan. 5, 2022, which coincides with when Southwest’s booking window ends. It’s likely that the airline will extend the route in the coming months, but we’ll have to wait for an official confirmation from the airline. (The airline declined to comment.)
As for the four other Austin routes, Cirium schedules show varying frequency boosts, all of which are noted in the chart below.
|El Paso, Texas (ELP)||From up to 2x daily to 3x daily between Nov. 8 and Jan. 5|
|Kansas City, Missouri (MCI)||From 1x daily to 2x daily between Nov. 8 and Jan. 5|
|Long Beach, California (LGB)||From 1x daily to 2x daily between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30 and Dec. 18 through Dec. 31|
|Lubbock, Texas (LBB)||From 1x weekly to 1x daily between Nov. 6 and Jan. 5|
The move to boost Austin service comes on the heel of the airline’s major summer expansion with a whopping 36 routes, including seven new destinations from Austin.
The city has seen explosive growth in air service in recent years, especially in the last few months as the recovery from the pandemic is well underway.
Other than Southwest, American Airlines has also been busy boosting Austin recently, basically turning the market into a makeshift focus city.
Of the five routes that Southwest is adding or boosting, three of them are included in AA’s latest Austin expansion. Other than service to Long Beach and Lubbock, Southwest is entrenching its position as Austin’s largest carrier as AA tries to chip away at its foothold.
Austin is a lucrative market for airlines, especially as they look to recover from the pandemic.
As one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country, there’s been a steady stream of companies moving into Austin. Plus, with the city’s vibrant arts and entertainment scene, it’s a popular destination for leisure travelers.
Southwest and American aren’t the only airlines to boost flights to Austin recently. Alaska, Allegiant Air, Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue have all unveiled new routes to the city this year. Additionally, at the recent Raymond James conference, Delta President Glen Hauenstein told investors that the carrier plans to reinstate just two of its five focus cities, with Austin and Raleigh-Durham returning.
Ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant is investing $75 million to open a new base at Austin airport’s South Terminal (AUS), creating at least 89 jobs and housing three Airbus A320 aircraft.
As Andrew Watterson, Southwest’s chief commercial officer, recently wrote in a statement, “while other carriers have fallen in and out of love with Austin across the years, we’re continuing to build on nearly 45 years of offering affordable and relevant air service for Central Texans and those who are headed there.”
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
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