Currently, Southwest flies nonstop from Newark to Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Nashville, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego and S. Louis. As of November 3rd all of those flights will no longer operate.
Southwest is partially blaming the closure on the 737MAX fiasco. They acknowledged that airplane will be out of service until 2020.
However ultimately Newark is being chopped as operations there are not profitable. Earlier this year they ended nonstop service between Newark and Fort Lauderdale.
In 2014 United dehubbed Cleveland after the FAA created a pilot shortage by increasing required flight hours by 500% from 250 to 1,500. The easiest way to solve that problem in one fell swoop was to kill the least important airport in their system.
This too solves Southwest’s 737MAX capacity issues in one fell swoop by allowing them to primarily affect an airport that they have been serving for 8 years without the forecasted profitability. That way they can avoid cancelling flights from more profitable airports.
I wouldn’t expect a resumption of Newark service anytime soon, even after the 737MAX comes back online.
Southwest says they will consolidate its NYC operations at LaGuardia and will allow employees to transfer there, but color me skeptical about consolidating those flights.
While Newark has the capacity to allow airlines to freely add flights, both LaGuardia and JFK are slot-controlled airports. Along with Washington/DCA, those airports are operating at capacity and flights can’t be easily added there. Airlines can buy slots from other airlines, but that is a costly endeavor. Southwest’s opportunity to grow organically in NYC was in Newark and they are now raising the white flag.
I wouldn’t expect Southwest’s Newark routes to shift to other NYC airports. Southwest has no JFK presence and can’t operate the longer routes (such as Oakland, Phoenix, and San Diego) from LaGuardia due to the perimeter rule at that airport that restricts those flights. Perhaps they will buy some pricey slot pairs to add flights or they will shift some current LaGuardia flight frequencies to create new routes, but it certainly won’t replace what exists in Newark today.
Some flights may migrate to Islip and Philadelphia, though that too isn’t likely to happen until the 737MAX returns.
Currently, Southwest flies nonstop from LaGuardia to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Nashville, Orlando, Milwaukee, New Orleans, San Antonio, S. Louis, and Tampa.
Southwest flies nonstop from Philadelphia to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix, S. Louis, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.
Southwest flies nonstop from Islip to Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.
It’s bad news for NYC flyers, who will have fewer flights and higher prices on some of these routes. It’s also bad news for Southwest companion pass holders, who will find it much harder to get to where they want to go, especially if they’re trying to get to Hawaii.
It’s one big gift wrapped with a bow on top for United and their massive hub in Newark.