Southwest’s arrival in Milwaukee increases seat capacity by 10%; six new routes target AirTran and Midwest

Image: Southwest Touchdown in Milwaukee
The boss Gary Kelly: “Southwest Airlines is truly here as a member of this community…” Scott Walker, Milwaukee County Executive takes it all in. Stressing Southwest’s long term investment on a number of levels Kelly related how employees had celebrated Halloween with the families of critically ill children at the Ronald McDonald House of Southeast Wisconsin as “just the beginning.”   Sporting a “Southwest yellow” shirt, supervisor Michael Mayo Sr., Milwaukee County Board Transportation, Public Works, and Transit chairman thanks: “airport director Barry Bateman (behind, right) and the entire airport staff for bringing Southwest here to Milwaukee County.”
Touchdown in Milwaukee! Southwest Airlines adds its 35th state, 68th city (featuring the family who travel on every Southwest inaugural flight).

It has been an unusually busy year for Southwest with regard to starting services from new airports. Since the beginning of 2009 the US’s leading domestic airlines (in terms of passengers transported) has begun flights from Minneapolis/St Paul, New York LaGuardia, Boston and now Milwaukee bringing to 68 the number of airports served across 35 states.

Image: Motorcycle lead gave a uniquely Milwaukee feel
A motorcycle cavalcade gave a uniquely Milwaukee feel as compared to the normal water cannon salute: Milwaukee is the home of Harley Davidson (and a lot of other things including MillerCoors one of the largest single site breweries in the world).

Last year, Milwaukee ranked 48th among US airports with just under eight million annual passengers (+3.2%). However, its biggest base carrier, Midwest, has been through some difficult times and has now come under the control of Republic (as has Frontier Airlines based in Denver). Passenger numbers in the first nine months of 2009 are down 8.2%, but demand in September was up an impressive 16.9%, suggesting that Milwaukee may yet get close to its performance of last year.

Airline Seat share: Aug 08 Seat share: Nov 09
Midwest 49.9% 31.0%
AirTran 16.9% 26.4%
Northwest 11.9% 10.1%
Southwest   9.8%
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 4 August 2008 and w/c 9 November 2009

While Midwest has been consolidating and refining its network, AirTran has been busy adding new services during 2009 to Boston, Branson, Denver, Indianapolis, Minneapolis/St Paul, Pittsburgh, San Diego, St Louis and Washington National. As a result, it has closed rapidly on Midwest in terms of weekly seat capacity provided at the airport. However, Midwest still offers scheduled non-stop flights this November to 29 destinations compared with AirTran’s 17. Southwest’s 12 daily departures effectively increase daily seat capacity at the airport by around 10%.

Southwest’s six new routes already served by other carriers

Southwest’s initial batch of six routes are to five of its seven busiest bases, plus Kansas City. All of the destinations are already served from Milwaukee by either AirTran or Midwest.

Image: Southwest confetti
Kelly joins officials from Milwaukee County in kicking a ceremonial football filled with confetti to cap-off Southwest’s Touchdown in Milwaukee celebrations which featured a free tailgate watching party for a thousand Green Bay Packers football fans on Sunday.
Destination Southwest weekly frequency Competition (WF)
Baltimore/Washington 21 AirTran (21)
Kansas City 21 Midwest (33)
Las Vegas 14 AirTran (21), Midwest (14)
Orlando 14 AirTran (21), Midwest (13)
Phoenix 7 Midwest (13), US Airways (13)
Tampa 7 AirTran (7), Midwest (7)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 9 November 2009

AirTran competes directly on five routes while Midwest will face an additional competitor on four of its routes. While the local community will be delighted to welcome Southwest with the promise of cheaper fares from the new competing services to existing destinations, the airport will no doubt be most excited about the prospect of new destinations this base hopefully brings.

David Holmes, the rapping Southwest flight attendant, performing a new rap specifically about the kick-off of service in Milwaukee. anna.aero’s own in-house rapper, Kerry “J” Parks, kindly transcribed David’s rap; the lyrics are enlightening about both Milwaukee and SWA:

Southwest is flying into Milwaukee
I had to show up for the party, can you bar me
Since you’re one of those out here rhyming
You’ll know that Milwaukee is the 68th place that we fly to
It’s a great airport, glad you’re gonna share it
Special shout out to the mayor Tom Barrett
Milwaukee, we were impressed
We planned to expand into the Midwest
In Wisconsin or Lake Michigan
This is it boys, so I’m gonna say this again
This is a city that we had to enter
Now we can hang out at the Bradley Center
You’re gonna build a park, it’s a little bit newer
See Prince Fielder and the rest of the Brewers
If yo Richie said, eat ‘em with crackers
Everybody here should be rooting for the Packers
But Milwaukee is not just about sports
There’s a lot of cool things outside the airport
Out of all the big cities in the country
Milwaukee rates at number 23
13 companies in the Fortune 1000
Plenty of reasons for the city to be proud in
Museums, festivals, performing arts
Milwaukee is a city that’ll capture your heart
So break out the beer, don’t forget the Bratwurst
I like to rap so I’ll guess I’ll do the verse
Bring on the brand and customer service
And low fares cos I guess you deserve it
Non-stop to six cities, even Las Vegas
We’re the better choice, on that you can’t debate us
Go pack your bags, don’t forget your toothpaste
Remember we’re not gonna charge you for your suitcase
We’ll get you where you’re going, we’ll do it on time
And you might get a flight attendant talking in a rhyme
Roll out the red carpet, let the trumpets sound
Because the best airline has finally found
Its way to Milwaukee but we remember
The party got started on the 1st of November
From that moment on, air travel will change
Southwest is here, we’ll see you on the plane

Image: Scott Walker, Milwaukee County Executive
Scott Walker, Milwaukee County Executive: “Southwest is now a community partner in so many ways, above all, these new flights and new markets clearly help fuel the economic engine of this entire region.”

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