Next Airport for Southwest?


I was interested in what airports Southwest Airlines might add service to next. 

With their recent spate of growth during the pandemic they are now at or have announced service at 104 domestic and international airports.

I was only interested in growth domestically.

So, what I did was take every airport that they operate at and drew a 60-mile radius around the airport. 

I then analyzed all the zip codes within those 60-mile bands and eliminated them from the analysis. 

Turns out Southwest serves about 75% of the population within 60 miles of one of its airports, or 246 million people. 

Of the remaining 290 or so lower 48 airports I calculated 60-mile radii around those airports (excluding the zip codes already served by Southwest and eliminated previously) and calculated population, enplanements and estimated enplanements. 

I then ranked those airports by population and estimated enplanement potential.

Turns out there are 25 airports without Southwest service that have over 1 million residents and 37 airports with over 1 million estimated enplanements. 

There are some on the list you would recognize as strong markets and some that may be a surprise to most.

For example, the top five airports in terms of population within 60 miles includes Fresno, CA, Harrisburg and Lancaster, PA, Knoxville, TN and Fort Wayne, IN. 

Others in the top 25 list might surprise, including Joplin, MO and Longview, TX.

The top five airports for potential enplanements includes Knoxville, Chattanooga and Tri-Cities, TN, Greensboro, NC and Fresno, CA.

If you look at the top five of both lists, you will find Fresno and Knoxville, and those would be my two next recommendations if I were in planning at Southwest.

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