SWA gets more gates at MDW


Jan 25, 2004
Friday, November 18, 2005
Southwest Grows More Midway Monstrous
Breaking news in the ATA bankruptcy. According to the Chicago Tribune, Southwest is to pick up four more gates at Chicago Midway airport (MDW). ATA would give another three gates back to the city, keeping only one (planned total ATA MDW departures would be 24, ATA would use city-controlled gates as well as the one it would lease full-time).

This will take Southwest up to 29 gates total at MDW. A reasonable benchmark for Southwest departures/gate is 10/day. Assuming Southwest eventually builds to this level, 290 departures/day would make MDW its largest station by far (Las Vegas is currently somewhere around the 200 departure/day level for Southwest).

It also a long-term problem for United and American at Chicago O'Hare (ORD) (though the cessation of ruinous competition between Southwest and ATA has been a real benefit in the last year). The greater the number of frequencies and destinations that Southwest can offer from MDW, the more competitive Southwest and MDW become to the business traveler.

It's also advances the day Southwest moves deeper into Northwest's territory. Minneapolis (MSP) is an obvious business destination from MDW. Chicago-Minneapolis is a significant business route, and one that Southwest is likely to want to fly to offer a full portfolio from MDW. Southwest is now so strong in some markets that it can use that strength to break into legacy carrier hubs that were traditionally considered off-limits. Southwest's recent entry into Denver (DEN) is an example of that, as it leveraged off strength in Phoenix (PHX), Las Vegas (LAS) and MDW. A future entry into MSP would be likely done in much the same way.