Today during Southwest Airlines’ Media Day, after I enquired how the airline intended to handle Delta Air Lines and competition in Atlanta once they complete their acquisition of AirTran. The response I received was a bit unexpected. While I expected the “we need to focus on own needs” response … I did not expect the airline to state they believed that Atlanta could be the largest city in the Southwest Airlines network.
Not only does Southwest Airlines believe that Atlanta could be the largest city in their network … but it can be the largest shortly after the airline moves into the city.
While many airlines use ‘hubs’ (Southwest does not have hubs, they have focus cities), Atlanta is not merely a hub for Delta, it is their fortress. AirTran has been a thorn in Delta’s side, however Southwest Airlines is not a thorn or a pest to Delta, it is a major competitor and one that is a massive threat to their strong hold on Atlanta and its ability to connect the many dots on their route map across America.
Southwest Airlines has built up a tremendous following of loyal followers throughout the United States and the southeast region … but Atlanta, the busiest airport in the world, has been a blank spot on their route map … and will remain one until the first half of 2011 when they don’t just move in … they burst in with the intent to expand at a rate unimaginable for nearly any other airline on the planet.
Below is a photo of Southwest Airlines’ executives Bob Jordan, Jeff Lamb, Mike Van De Ven discussing Southwest Airlines’ acquisition of AirTran