Karen and Aaron want to know about Southwest Airlines.
Karen says, "What was the law that kept Southwest from flying into Springfield. Wasn't that recently overruled, or didn't a new law go into effect that would allow it?"
Karen... You're thinking about the Wright Amendment. I most definitely am not an expert on this bit of airline/airport legislation. But in a nutshell: when the amendment was in full force it forbid Southwest Airlines from flying into any state that didn't touch Texas (the airline is based at Dallas Love Field).
In 2005 the law was amended to allow flights to Missouri.
Aaron says...Why doesn't Southwest fly into Springfield-Branson?
I get this question all the time, so forgive me for the well rehearsed response!
Southwest is a tough nut to crack for smaller markets like Springfield. Why? Because the business model won't allow for service into a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of less than a million people. The population of the Springfield MSA is 400,000. I'd guess that Southwest would want to have five flights a day, with the goal of filling a 130 seat aircraft to at least 80% capacity. And it would only fly to one place. This is a key point... Southwest doesn't fly from point A to B or C, and so forth. It flys from point A to point B. And in our case, where would point B be? It would almost certainly be Dallas Love Field.
So here's the down and dirty: we don't have the customer base to support an airline like Southwest, Airtran, JetBlue etc. In 10 to 15 years we might have the passenger numbers, but don't count on it.
I know what you're thinking--what about Allegiant? It's a low cost airline and it serves Springfield-Branson! Allegiant is a completely different animal. It operates on a much, much smaller scale than Southwest and its business model is different. It serves small market airports (like us) with service to vacation destinations only. And at the beginning of this year it owned only about 22 airplanes. I'm sure we'll be talking about this subject a lot more!