[ Airlines ]October 9, 2020 4:35 am ET
By Daniel Morley
Southwest Adds Montrose; Loads Miami, Palm Springs Routes
Southwest Airlines has made leisure travel the focal point of its Covid-19 recovery plan. For the winter the airline believes that travelers will be heading to the slopes. In August the airline announced it would begin seasonal service to Steamboat Springs from Denver and Dallas Love. Now the airline has added service to another Colorado ski area, Montrose. Flights to both cities will begin on December 19 and will bring the airline up to three destinations in the Centennial State.
Like Steamboat Springs, Southwest will serve Montrose Regional Airport with flights to Denver and Dallas Love. The Dallas flight will be operated daily, while Denver will be operated up to three times a week. The additions are representative of the demand of leisure travelers seeking outside activities in order to social distance during the Covid-19 pandemic. Business demand still remains extremely low due to the pandemic, with leisure travelers making up a majority of people flying.
Service to Steamboat Springs is seasonal, with the last day of service is April 5, 2021. Flights to Montrose will likely be the same seasonal service with a similar end date. Service to Montrose will give Southwest travelers easy access to the ski areas around Telluride, Colorado. The airport is a popular winter destination with seasonal service with flights across the United States.
In addition to snow destinations, Southwest is adding service to sun destinations this winter. The airline previously announced service to Miami and Palm Springs, California. When announced in August, the flights did not have a start date and the routes to be served were not announced. The flights for these new destinations have now been added to the Southwest reservation system.
Both cities will be added to the Southwest route network on November 15. Palm Springs will get up to six flights a day; with Denver being served daily, Oakland up to twice a day, and Phoenix up to three flights a day. Miami will have up to 12 flights a day; Chicago Midway will be served daily, Baltimore up to four flights a day, Houston Hobby up to four flights a day, and Tampa up to three flights a day. All the flights, to Montrose, Miami, and Palm Springs, are available to book on the Southwest website.
Interestingly the destinations at Miami are also served up the road at the airline’s focus city of Fort Lauderdale. The airline believes it can serve both Fort Lauderdale and Miami without drawing traffic from the other. Post-pandemic, service to Miami will give travelers easier access to cruise ships at Port Miami as well as being closer to South Beach and the Florida Keys. In South Florida, low-cost airlines generally stick with either Fort Lauderdale or Miami, with Jetblue and Spirit having hubs in Fort Lauderdale and Frontier having a hub in Miami.
Palm Springs has become a hot destination since the start of the pandemic. In addition to Southwest arriving in the city, Alaska Airlines will add three destinations, Allegiant will add two destinations, and Jetblue and American adding one route each. The city is a popular sun destination during the winter and the pandemic has amplified this. Similar to routes in Colorado travelers will be looking for more outdoor options, such as Palm Springs, as they travel this winter.