DALLAS, June 27 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Southwest Airlines, the low-fare leader, solidified its Florida presence today by announcing service to Fort Myers, Fla., from Southwest Florida International Airport beginning in October 2005. Fort Myers will be Southwest's sixth Florida city. Fares and flight schedules will be announced next month.
"Fort Myers is a great addition to the Southwest Airlines Family, not only from a business standpoint, but from a Southwest Florida Customer standpoint as well," said Gary Kelly, Southwest's Chief Executive Officer. "Now, our Southwest Florida Customers have to look no further than their own backyard for Southwest's legendary low fares and great Customer Service."
With this announcement, Southwest Airlines continues to expand its commitment to the state of Florida. Southwest Florida International Airport will become Southwest's 61st airport systemwide. In Florida, Southwest currently serves Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa Bay, and West Palm Beach. Southwest Airlines is the largest intra-Florida carrier and transported more than 5.7 million Floridians in 2004.
"We are very excited about Southwest Airlines' decision to inaugurate service at Southwest Florida International Airport," said Robert M. Ball, A.A.E., Executive Director of the Lee County Port Authority. "We have been working closely with Southwest for many years and are pleased they have selected Southwest Florida as their newest destination. We are confident this partnership will be successful and know travelers will enjoy this exciting new service option."
Historically, when Southwest enters a new city, fares drop dramatically and demand for travel increases. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in a 1993 study described the phenomenon as the "Southwest Effect." Statistics from Southwest's newest cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are a perfect example:
- Since Southwest Airlines entered the Philadelphia market in May 2004, total Philadelphia traffic has increased nearly 30 percent. * In just one year, Southwest Airlines has grown to capture nearly 10 percent of the Philadelphia market share.
- In the third quarter of 2004, the average one-way fare between
Philadelphia and Chicago Midway fell 46 percent, while traffic increased by 137 percent. In addition, the average one-way fare between Philadelphia and Chicago O'Hare (an airport that Southwest Airlines does not serve) fell 44 percent, while traffic increased by
28 percent, showing that Southwest Airlines' arrival in new markets benefits sister airports and other airlines.
- Since Southwest Airlines entered the Philadelphia market, one-way fares between Philadelphia and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., have dropped 74 percent; one-way fares between Philadelphia and Phoenix have dropped
33 percent; one-way fares between Philadelphia and Los Angeles have dropped 33 percent; one-way fares between Philadelphia and Las Vegas have dropped 27 percent; and one-way fares between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay have dropped 20 percent.
- Southwest, which began service from Pittsburgh on May 4 with 10 daily nonstop flights to Chicago, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Orlando, had a total of 57,260 passengers, accounting for six percent of the passengers at Pittsburgh International Airport, in its first month of operations. Southwest was the fourth busiest airline at Pittsburgh behind US Airways (570,168), Delta (65,228), and United (60,931) for May 2005.
"Southwest is thrilled to begin operating out of a new, state-of-the-art facility," Kelly said. "The new terminal will be a great home for Southwest, and Fort Myers will be a fantastic addition to our strong 61 city network."
For more than 34 years, Southwest has been in the business of connecting people -- whether they are business executives looking to "close the deal" or loved ones gathering for a special occasion. Southwest boarded more than 70 million Customers in 2004 on its young fleet of Boeing 737s.
Southwest has reported 32 consecutive years of profitability, and earlier this month celebrated its 34th year in business. Based in Dallas, Southwest operates a fleet of 432 Boeing 737s with an average age of nine years -- among the youngest pure jet fleets in the domestic airline industry. Southwest Airlines, the nation's largest carrier in terms of domestic passengers enplaned, currently serves 60 airports in 31 states. Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates more than 3,000 flights a day and has 31,000+ Employees systemwide.