Southwest Airlines is adding Nashville and Cleveland to the cities it serves nonstop from Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport, the airline said Thursday.
Southwest, which is the market share leader in Milwaukee, also is adding flights to St. Louis and Denver from Milwaukee.
The airline also said it was exiting the Milwaukee-to-Minneapolis market.
The changes begin Nov. 5, and tickets for the new service were scheduled to be available beginning at 5 a.m. Thursday.
The moves are meant to align Southwest’s scheduled service with demand the airline is seeing in Milwaukee, said Ryan Green, vice president and chief marketing officer for the Dallas-based carrier.
“We are constantly monitoring demand overall, and we will adjust the schedule and our offerings,” to match where customers want to fly, Green said.
The changes are intended to reinforce the airline’s commitment to Milwaukee and Wisconsin, Green said.
“We want to continue to win the hearts and minds of the Milwaukee customer base,” Green said. “We think that if we do that, the business will follow.”
The airline, Green said, has 70% more seats than its next-closest competitor in Milwaukee. “I think that demonstrates our commitment to the market,” he said. “Our goal is … to be Milwaukee’s hometown carrier.”
Airline spokesman Dan Landson said the Milwaukee service changes will include:
New twice-daily nonstops to Nashville.
New twice-daily nonstops to Cleveland on Sunday through Friday, with one flight on Saturdays.
One additional daily flight to Denver, bringing the total to four per day.
One additional daily flight to St. Louis, bringing the total to two each day.
Eliminating two daily flights to Minneapolis.
“(Minneapolis) was a market where we just had a hard time attracting the necessary traffic to make the sustainable returns to make that market make sense,” Green said. “We made the difficult decision to re-allocate aircraft into these new destinations.”
Delta Air Lines and its affiliated carriers fly between Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Delta is No. 2 in market share in Milwaukee.
In terms of the new Milwaukee service, Southwest is the market share leader in Nashville. It is in second place in Cleveland behind United.
As part of the new Nashville and Cleveland service, Green said Southwest will be offering special fares.
“We will have some introductory fares for the new markets and, without giving away what the actual price point is, I’ll tell you that it’s cheaper than what some airlines are going to charge for bag fees,” Green said.
Southwest does not charge bag fees, a point that it stresses in its advertising and marketing.
Mitchell International is owned and operated by Milwaukee County.