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TravelSouthwest Airlines cuts 2 transcontinental flights from Atlanta

Southwest Airlines cuts 2 transcontinental flights from Atlanta


The writing was on the wall, but now it’s official: Southwest Airlines is making more adjustments to its network, with an emphasis on Atlanta.

The Dallas-based carrier filed plans over the weekend to exit two transcontinental routes from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by carrier spokesperson Dan Landson.

The affected routes are those from ATL to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and to San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport (OAK).

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The airline was originally planning to stop flying to these markets in the winter, but that date has now been moved earlier to August.

Note that while Southwest is dropping these nonstop flights, the airline will continue to offer one-stop service from Atlanta to both Oakland and Los Angeles.

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Earlier this year, the airline announced that it was dropping four cities from its route map and shrinking in two others: Atlanta and Chicago.

At the time, Southwest didn’t specify the cuts that it would make in Atlanta, but now we’re starting to get a sense of what’s on the chopping block.

The longer stage length of transcontinental flights makes it harder for Southwest to turn a profit on these roughly 2,000-mile nonstop routes, so that’s likely contributing to the decision to drop this service.

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So far, Southwest has blamed many of its recent cuts on delivery delays at Boeing, but the airline seems to be struggling structurally.

The carrier, which has turned a profit for 47 consecutive years, no longer has its mojo, some investors allege. (Just this week, Elliott Investment Management confirmed a $1.9 billion investment in Southwest, but it said that the airline has faced poor execution and leadership in recent years.)

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The poor performance is even causing Southwest to rethink many of its unique value propositions, such as an open boarding policy and two free checked bags.

In an April statement, Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said that “to improve our financial performance, we have intensified our network optimization efforts to address underperforming markets. … I want to sincerely thank our Employees, the airports, and the communities for all their incredible support over the years.”

Southwest began flying to Atlanta in 2012 as part of its merger with Atlanta-based AirTran Airways. The airline has since turned the city into a de facto hub with around 90 daily departures, Cirium schedules show.

Without Southwest service, hometown carrier Delta Air Lines will enjoy a monopoly on the nonstop to Oakland. Service between Atlanta and Los Angeles is more hotly contested, with flights operated by Delta, American Airlines and Spirit Airlines.

This is just Southwest’s latest network adjustment. Last month, the airline added seven new routes but phased out four others.

For its part, Southwest declined to comment specifically on its most recent transcontinental cuts.

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