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Southwest Airlines to Remove Four Airports from Its Flight Network

Services at Bellingham, Cozumel, Houston George Bush, and Syracuse will be axed in August

by Fergus Cole

April 29, 2024

Photo: Courtesy of Denver International Airport.

Southwest Airlines will remove four airports from its flight network due to the challenges of meeting demand caused by Boeing‘s aircraft delivery delays and network deficiencies. The Dallas-based carrier reported a net loss of $231 million in its financial report for the first quarter of 2024, which was higher than anticipated.

As a result, the low-cost airline will stop flying to four airports starting August 4: Bellingham International Airport (BLI) in Washington State, George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston, Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR) in New York State, and Cozumel International Airport (CZM) in Mexico.

Photo: Southwest Airlines hub at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood. Courtesy of Southwest Airlines / Stephen M. Keller

In addition, Southwest said it will “significantly restructure other markets,” which includes reducing flight capacity at both Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD).

Southwest noted the ongoing issues at Boeing and the delay of aircraft deliveries, which has hurt its operational efficiency. The airline now expects just 20 aircraft to be delivered in 2024, compared to the 79 it had anticipated at the beginning of the year.

The delivery delays are caused by ongoing issues at Boeing, which began when a door plug blew off on a flight between Portland (PDX) and Ontario (ONT) in early January. The incident caused a three-week grounding of all Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft and subsequent delay of the certification of two new models, the 737 MAX 7 and 737 MAX 10.

Southwest on Boeing’s Delays

“The recent news from Boeing regarding further aircraft delivery delays presents significant challenges for both 2024 and 2025,” said Bob Jordan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Airlines. “We are reacting and replanning quickly to mitigate the operational and financial impacts while maintaining dependable and reliable flight schedules for our Customers.”

Jordan added that to improve the company’s financial performance, they have intensified their network optimization efforts to address underperforming markets.

Photo: Courtesy of Southwest Airlines / Stephen M. Keller

Despite Southwest’s higher-than-expected losses reported in Q1 2024, it also reported operating revenues of $6.3 billion, an 11 percent increase compared to the same quarter of 2023, driven by the rise in the volume of passengers flown.

The airline’s CEO also claimed that its decision to cut service at four airports would have been made even without Boeing’s delivery issues, and instead was made in an attempt to boost its financial results, telling CNBC in an interview: “The network actions have really nothing to do with the Boeing delays. We’re taking network actions regardless.”

“Now the Boeing delays are very painful… They hurt us on the revenue front,” he added. “They cause us to be inefficient.”