Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

More Southwest?

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

More Southwest?

Article excerpt

DALLAS -- Oklahoma City is an anomaly for Southwest Airlines.

Although the city and the state are important cogs for the upstart airline, there are no plans to increase service any time soon.

"Oklahoma, particularly Oklahoma City, is important in our route structure," said Pete McGlade, vice president in charge of scheduling. "The Oklahoma City market is growing, and we do expect to increase the number of cities we now serve and the number of flights out of Will Rogers World Airport. "But until the numbers get up there, there's not much hope of increasing the service." Southwest is the dominant carrier of the 13 major, regional and charter airlines serving Will Rogers World Airport. In August, the Dallas-based carrier reported 47,216 passenger boardings, 28 percent of the total market. Boardings for Tulsa International Airport are similar to those in Oklahoma City. But the figures in either city are not good enough to increase service, even for a carrier in the midst of a major route expansion. McGlade didn't give the magical number for increasing service to Oklahoma City, but "we've got to have more seats covered to do something like that." "There are still a lot of empty seats leaving Oklahoma City." In the first six months of 1996, Southwest has reported 267,809 boardings, 31.9 percent of the total, with an average of 32 flights daily. McGlade has a point. At one time Southwest carried at least 32 percent of the outbound Oklahoma City passengers any given month. The airline has become virtually a national carrier by assessing and limiting risk whenever possible, according to Gary Kelly, the airline's chief financial officer. "When we do add flights, we want to make sure that our traffic is keeping up with traffic growth," Kelly said during a Dallas meeting with the nation's aviation writers. "We are not competing against just other airlines, but we are competing against the automobile. "We try to keep our costs and other factors in the reach of the average person, the person who normally drives instead of flying. …

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