Southwest Airlines is planning its busiest year ever at Dallas Love Field and bringing back a handful of nonstop flights that weren’t on the schedule a year ago to cities such as Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Louisville, Ky.; Palm Springs, Calif.; and Minneapolis.
Dallas-based Southwest, which has been constrained for years at Love Field, will send more than 200 flights a day out from the airport during peak summer travel rush in July and August, 2023. This is more than the airline company flew before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Love Field is also getting a boost from Delta Air Lines, which said it will add routes to New York’s La Guardia Airport and Los Angeles International Airport starting in June, 2023.
Southwest Airlines spokesman Chris Perry said in a statement that the carrier’s goal was to restore its network by the end of this year.
Cross-town rival American Airlines also is planning to boost flights out of Dallas Forth Worth International Airport this summer compared with a year ago.
But the carrier is struggling to reach 2019 flight levels because of the limited number of pilots at the regional level. However, by using bigger planes, American is planning to fly about 7% more passengers out of DFW than it did in 2019.
Southwest’s boosted plans come after it settled a years-long lawsuit with Delta and Alaska Airlines over the use of one of the gates at Love Field.
Love Field is federally restricted to 20 gates and previously assigned 17 of those to Southwest. Now Southwest gets one more, allowing it to add extra flights. Alaska and Delta use the other two.
The majority of the growth is from the resolution of the gate conflict between Southwest, Alaska and Delta, said Jeff Pelletier, managing director of Dallas-based Airline Data Inc.
Southwest hasn’t been able to grow with 17 gates at Love Field, so the only way to add flights is with more gates.
The ambitious plans could bring 1.96 million passengers to Love Field during the projected busiest month in July, which would shatter the previous record of 1.5 million set in July 2018.
Bigger planes for the few slots they have might be a solution?