Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines' chief commercial officer, talked with Senior Editor Kate Rice about marketing the 15 long-haul nonstops the airline will start operating at Dallas Love Field this fall after the expiration of the Wright Amendment, which had restricted long-haul flights there.
Q: How will you market the new services you have out of Love Field?
A: Our local Dallas customers have been just craving the extra flights. We can now offer them such a better schedule and better flights to these 15 additional destinations. But not everybody is aware of those. So you'll see creative ads around the new nonstops. The closer we get, you'll see a broader marketing campaign.
Q: How does the modernization of Love Field fit into your strategy?
A: We've got a brand-new airport at Love Field. Half of the new gates are online now and half will come online just before Oct. 13. The new Love Field, which is still under construction, is the Taj Mahal compared to what we had before. So you'll see broad advertising and marketing that will roll out across 2014. The new nonstops are not just opening up those 15 destinations but can get you all across the country.
And I want to make sure that everybody in the Dallas-Fort Worth area knows that, and not just folks who are loyal to Southwest today or close to Love Field.
Q: What about Delta expanding its service out of Love Field from one city, Atlanta, to four more cities?
A: Delta did announce that it is selling scheduled flights out of Love Field. But Delta doesn't have gates. [Editor's note: Delta operates out of Love by subleasing two gates from American.] In fact, the whole process for American to divest those two gates has not been approved [or] defined.
Obviously, we're out there, as well. We'd love to increase competition even further by picking up those two gates ourselves.
Q: Southwest did just pick up an additional 27 slot pairs at Reagan National; isn't that one of your new destinations out of Love?
A: These new slots that we picked up at LaGuardia and especially at Reagan National, combined with the Wright Amendment change, is the only way that we can now offer service from Dallas to Washington Reagan and New York LaGuardia. That is huge. Reagan tends to be a real business airport, and that is why it is important. I'm really eager to get this new Reagan service in place.
Q: What do the new flights mean for Love?
A: It is a strong local airport; we win our fair share of local Dallas customers. But obviously, it's a destination airport, as well, and as a destination airport it's far more attractive when you can fly nonstop.
The big difference is, take a city like a Midland or an Amarillo, which has good service mostly to Dallas. What this means is now they can fly to Dallas and connect with so many more locations because the service out of Dallas is so robust.
Q: Some have suggested that you're going to raise fares in Dallas. What's your response?
A: The whole core of our existence is low fares. I absolutely guarantee that the intent is to have low fares like we do today and now give you a better flight experience because you can go nonstop. Dallas aside, we're in the business to lower fares, which drives up the entire base of traffic for everybody. Better service in 15 markets and beyond and lower fares will drive up the passenger base in all of the markets.
Follow Kate Rice on Twitter @krtravelweekly.