Southwest Airlines’ Nashville traffic up 54% in 10 years; January to September traffic climbs 11%; five new routes in 2019
Southwest Airlines is the largest operator at Nashville Airport, accounting for a 54% share of the airport’s total passenger movements between October 2017 and September 2018, with over 8.05 million customers being transported to/from the airport by the airline during this period. To give an idea of how dominant Southwest is at Nashville, the airport’s second biggest operator – Delta Air Lines – carried a little under 1.65 million passengers within the same period on 12 routes, accounting for 11% of the airport’s total traffic. Southwest presently operates 39 routes from Nashville on either a seasonal or year-round basis.
Passenger numbers soar to over seven million
Southwest Airlines transported 7.45 million passengers from Nashville in 2017, up 7.7% versus the 6.92 million it transported from the airport in 2016. The result of last year marks a 54% increase in annual passengers for the airline from the airport versus 2008, when it carried 4.83 million people from the Tennessee airport. During the past decade, Southwest has reported two years where passenger numbers fell, with 2009 seeing a 3.4% drop in passengers carried versus 2008, and 2012 when numbers fell by 1.0% when compared to 2011.
While full-year data for 2018 is presently not available, it should be noted that data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) has confirmed that 8.05 million passengers were transported in the 12-month period between October 2017 and September 2018. For the first nine months of this year, Southwest Airlines carried just under 6.14 million passengers from Nashville, up 11% versus the same ninth-month period of last year when 5.52 million people were flown by Southwest to and from the city. If the airline is able to maintain its 11% growth rate for the last quarter of 2018, then it will have flown roughly 8.28 million passengers from Nashville, up 71% versus the same traffic levels encountered in 2008.
Washington and Chicago top the rankings
Baltimore/Washington and Chicago Midway are Southwest’s top routes from Nashville, with both seeing 35 weekly flights a piece during the week analysed by anna.aero. As stated, the airline operated 39 routes from the airport in 2018, on either a seasonal or year-round basis. For the airline, last year was a quiet one with regards to adding new destinations, with just two routes being launched from Nashville, namely to Atlanta and Oklahoma City. However, while the new route count is low, the airline is operating 30 weekly departures to Atlanta, catapulting it into being the airline’s third biggest route from Nashville, while also breaking Delta’s monopoly on the route to the world’s busiest airport.
Looking ahead to 2019, Southwest is already showing that growth is set to continue from Nashville, with the airline already confirmed to add five new routes from the airport this year. The first to launch will be on 7 January when it begins services to New York Newark. Coincidentally, this route is a relaunch from when the airline closed the airport pair back in April 2016, with this also being the last route that was dropped by the airline from Nashville. Following on from this, the other four new routes will begin in June, namely Burbank, San Jose, Norfolk and Omaha.