Southwest Airlines is adding four new routes in January and a fifth in February as part of its flight schedule for January 8 through...

Southwest Airlines is adding four new routes in January and a fifth in February as part of its flight schedule for January 8 through March 9, 2012.

Both Southwest and its new subsidiary AirTran Airways have released flight schedules for the January 8-March 9 period, reflecting the first effort by the two carriers to coordinate their published schedules.


Southwest Airlines says that, while the carriers’ networks are not connected at this early stage of their post-merger integration, they are working together to improve their flight schedules to the places their customers want to go.

In 2010 Southwest Airlines' U.S. domestic network included 69 airports and the carrier had begun serving many of the nation's largest and most-congested airports. Following its take-over of AirTran Airways, Southwest's future service growth will include more linkages among both carriers' existing destinations, adding more U.S. destinations (including Hawaii) and building on AirTran's international network by offering service to destinations in Canada and Mexico as well as the Caribbean

The schedule coordination announced on July 25 is a first effort by both airlines to maximize operations and prepare for full integration, according to Southwest.

Southwest says that in its newly published winter schedule it has also continued to optimize its network to match capacity better to demand. The carrier says its customers will see some shifts in capacity due to the airline matching its supply of seats to the typical slowing of passenger demand in winter, and continued pruning of unproductive flying due to high fuel costs.

On January 7, Southwest Airlines will begin operating four new routes. The carrier will offer a new daily round-trip between Nashville and Fort Myers; a daily round-trip between Denver and Providence in Rhode Island; a daily roundtrip between Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood and Manchester, New Hampshire; and a daily round-trip between Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood and Milwaukee.

Then, on February 12, Southwest will start operating a daily round-trip between Long Island MacArthur Airport (near Islip) and Fort Myers. All five new flights are now available for booking through March 9 at www.southwest.com.

Despite the new flights, Southwest’s adjustment of capacity to meet demand for the winter schedule will see it reducing the number of flights it operates from 3,182 in November to 3,080 after January 7. However, by February 12 the airline will have increased its total daily flight count to 3,200.

“As we move toward full integration, we continue looking for ways to optimize operations and schedules at both Southwest and AirTran,” says Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines’ executive vice president of strategy and planning and AirTran Airways’ president. “The airline industry is facing many challenges including significantly higher fuel costs. We must do everything we can to operate efficiently, continue to offer schedules that best match capacity to demand, and deliver the legendary customer service both airlines are known for.”