CEO Statement: Southwest to Discontinue Richmond to Orlando Service
October 29, 2015
RICHMOND, VA (October 29, 2015) - This week, Southwest Airlines announced it was discontinuing nonstop service from Richmond to Orlando as a part of restructuring its flight operations across the country. With the schedule change effective April 12, 2016, Southwest will continue three flights per day from Richmond to Atlanta, where additional connecting flights are being added. Fortunately, JetBlue will continue its direct service to this popular Florida destination.
This is disappointing news after Southwest's much-anticipated Richmond service launch in November 2013, once it had completed the acquisition of AirTran. At that time, Southwest executives expressed optimism about the Richmond market due to our attractive location in Central Virginia and the demonstrated support of the business community through the Save Low Fares initiative. Both business and leisure travelers did support this Orlando route, which Southwest management has told us was profitable.
Southwest's decision reflects continuing structural changes of the airline industry in America and across the world. Airlines are focusing service on higher yielding opportunities, which provide greater revenues and allow them to concentrate flight operations for improved efficiencies. Plus, many domestic airlines, including Southwest and JetBlue, are targeting international routes for the first time for their higher fares and profitability. The result is that aircraft and personnel are being reallocated as highlighted in the chart.
The good news is that overall volume at RIC has experienced 19 months of continuous growth, a record matched by only a few airports in the nation. Our management staff is constantly exploring new route opportunities for existing and new destinations.
Thank you for your support for and interest in air travel for Central Virginia, and we will be in touch soon with additional news about service at RIC.
Jon E. Mathiasen, A.A.E
President and CEO