Low-fare carrier will absorb merger partner AirTran operation and double service capacity
Grand Rapids, MI (February 4, 2013) – Southwest Airlines, the world’s largest low-fare air service provider, will officially land at Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) in August 2013, the company announced today.
“Our community welcomes Southwest Airlines with great enthusiasm,” said GFIA Board Chair Roger Morgan. “This is tremendous news to start the New Year.”
Southwest will convert wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways to the Southwest brand and double the service capacity. Starting August 11, 2013, Southwest will expand from three to six the number of nonstop daily flights. The carrier also will add two new nonstop destinations – Denver and St. Louis – to a local nonstop service portfolio that already includes Orlando and Baltimore.
The new westbound flights provide West Michigan travelers with more convenient one-stop connections to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and other major west coast destinations. Other major one-stop connection cities could include such destinations as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Portland, Dallas, and Houston.
“These service enhancements essentially provide business and leisure travelers with access to the entire Southwest network,” said Brian Ryks, executive director of Gerald R. Ford International Airport. “The result of the new Southwest service will be more flight options, to and from more locations, at more competitive prices. Bottom line: This will make it easier for travelers to get where they want to go.”
Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways serve a combined 97 destinations in 41 American states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and six neighboring international countries such as Mexico and Bermuda. The new air service coming to Ford International will strengthen West Michigan’s connection to three of Southwest Airlines’ Top Ten busiest hubs. Baltimore, Denver, and St. Louis rank as the airlines’ 3rd, 5th, and 10th most active airports respectively based on number of daily departures.
“We enthusiastically welcome Southwest Airlines,” said Dick DeVos, chair of the Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan. “This is a compelling endorsement both that Gerald R. Ford International Airport continues to be a strong regional asset and that West Michigan supports quality commercial air service.”
Please find the official media release from Southwest Airlines here.