Friday, December 6, 2013

Southwest gone

Southwest Airlines announced yesterday it is pulling out of the Jackson market:

The airline will no longer fly in or out of Jackson after June 7 joining Branson, Mo., and Key West, Fla., in losing the airline.

“We were on notice that this could happen,” said Dirk Vanderleest, CEO of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority. Annual passenger counts had plunged from a peak of 481,000 in 2006 to 331,000 last year, Vanderleest said.

That decline in passengers coincided with a drop in daily flights, from nine in 1997 to four currently. Those scenarios eliminated Jackson as a profitable market. “It hasn’t been for several years,” Vanderleest said. “It’s economics. Any airline has to make money.”

Southwest merged with AirTran in 2011, starting services in cities that were previously served by AirTran, but in many cases not by Southwest. Entering those new markets, Vanderleest said, made markets like Jackson expendable. “We knew it would be an uphill battle keeping Southwest after the merger.”...

Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins validated Vanderleest’s assertions.

“All these markets were closed for performance-based reasons,” Hawkins said. Southwest’s 37 employees in Jackson will have the opportunity to move within the company, he said.

“If you’re asking me to zero in on one thing, it would be size, with Jackson only having four flights,” Hawkins said. Orlando and Chicago have one each; two flights go to Houston....Rest of article

This is a big blow to the Jackson area. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what will happen to fares in a year. Oh well, I do like going to New Orleans. One more reason to do so.

23 comments:

PittPanther said...

This is bad. Real bad.

I am hoping this is purely a Southwest issue. Airlines often do things in lockstep with each other. My concern is that none of the airlines make money flying to Jackson, so Southwest becomes just the first to pull out. Southwest leaving becomes the "excuse" that the other airlines were waiting for, so they can leave also.

No big business will locate in an area where they can't easily get anywhere by air, or they are served by only one carrier with all flights going only to Dallas. Think Shreveport...

Anonymous said...

Huge,set back. Since the Jackson Metro chamber claimed they got SW here , will they take the blame for them leaving??

Anonymous said...

I hate to see this. Before Southwest I paid $600.00 to fly to Houston on Delta. Southwest was $200.00 regular price and as low as $80.00 on special. Now the remaining airlines will go back to sticking it to everyone. As bad as I hate to do it, I will probably drive to New Orleans to fly Southwest if the remaining Jackson carriers jack up the prices.

Anonymous said...

If you read the Clarion article, it seems like Southwest wanted a hand-out from either the city or state (or both) to stay.

Anonymous said...

Did the Board change of personell have something to do with it?

Anonymous said...

It is easy to drive to most anywhere in the Kush.

Anonymous said...

but we're now getting megabus--that will connect to new orleans and memphis--so we don't have to drive to the airports ourselves...

Kingfish said...

Chamber worked its butt off to keep SW here. Saw some of them last night and needless to say, they were not happy at all.

PittPanther said...

MegaBus schedules (from their website):
Jackson to Memphis - 4 hrs 50 mins
Jackson to New Orleans - 3 hrs 20 mins

FAIL! Only retirees have this much time to waste on a bus. Those of us who WORK for a living and travel for clients, this is not feasible.

mbrookes said...

Take the train to NO or Memphis. That way you don't have to fool with parking a car somewhere. The train is way more pleasant than a bus (think get up and walk around and a bar.)

Anonymous said...

Is there somewhere we can fight this? I depend on SWA to get out of this place as much as possible. I do love it here but love getting away on weekends.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the obscene salary paid to Duane O'Neill is paying dividends. So much for the results oriented apologia used by so many to justify his overpaid status.

bill said...

2:23, I'm not sure fight is a good word. Fighting is what you do with an enemy, and why would Southwest - or anyone else - choose to continue to operate for the benefit of their enemies? They have the right to close their Jackson operation if they want, and the only thing that will change that is if it becomes too profitable for them to close. Not sure that can happen with the cutbacks in their schedule, and it may be too late for everyone to start flying every week. Pressure on government to give them tax breaks and infrastructure improvement - the same things we try to do to recruit business to the area - might help, but we need to hurry.

Anonymous said...

Sure seems like every time I've flown SW out of here over the last 2 years, the flight have been booked to capacity.....I'm thinking their decision must have been based on something other than "profitability."

Anonymous said...

This looks like opportunity for Frontier to pick up some gates and routes at a new airport for them. I've already driven to NOLA to take advantage of their cheap fares and would love to have them here.

Southwest stopped being a low cost airline when their ten-year fuel contract ran out and they had to start paying the same market rates as the big boys.

Anonymous said...

This is really more than a Metro C of C issue. This impacts almost the whole state. MEC, our congressional delegation, state elected officials and surrounding municipalities need to work together to keep SW in town. When it comes to economic development one of the key components is accesssibility to the state.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Phil can issue an executive order . . .

Merle Haggard's Silver Wings said...

The question now becomes 'Who knew what and when did they know it?'

Is the Metro C of C the only organization that had knowledge of advance plans to consider this closure?

Who and what organizations had an opportunity at the table to counter Southwest's thoughts of closure?

Was the governor aware?

Did hotel and restaurant associations have any warning?

Did the mayor of Jackson know and if he did, did he care?

Were our congressional delegation members involved in discussions?

Were there, in fact, ANY discussions?

It's always way too late to beg for decision changes after decisions are made and announced.

Anonymous said...

Is this really any different from hundreds of other employers pulling up stakes and leaving Mississippi over the past twenty-five years. People with money make business decisions that are in their best interest, without regard to who might be disquieted in the community.

Anonymous said...

How come Leland Speed and Ben Allen didn't suit-up and save the day?

Anonymous said...

I thought Jackson was irrelevant. How can an airport owned by City of Jackson have such a negative impact on the white Utopias?

Baffled in Bentonia said...

Were you trying to make sense 4:37? Please try again.

Anonymous said...

Just heard that Southwest employees are telling flyers that Southwest wanted landing fees reduced and the mayor said no. They said that any other city would have agreed.

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