(Memphis) There won’t be any happy landings in Memphis for Southwest Airlines this year.
The ‘low-cost’ air carrier announced its flight schedules for the next six months, Memphis wasn’t included.
Southwest is in the process of buying Air-Tran Airways, an acquisition that will delay Southwest’s landing in Memphis until 2013.
“Would I have liked them to come in here yesterday, last month or last year? Of course.”
Larry Cox, President and CEO of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, says he’s not completely surprised Southwest won’t be expanding into Memphis this year, “We’ve learned from many airline mergers, that the integration of two different airlines with two different systems, especially with two different aircraft types, that it takes a while to do that.
Many people learned about Southwest delaying their plans to come to Memphis after a flight schedule was released Monday.
Southwest also announced its anticipated expansion into Memphis would be put off until the summer of 2013.
Tuesday at Memphis International Airport, the Seib family from Little Rock was headed toHouston.
Like many travelers, Paul Seib is anxious to see Southwest’s planes on the Memphis tarmac, “They offer good rates. It would add competition to the mix here. You don’t have baggage fees. There’s a lot of advantages to flying Southwest and I fly them as often as I can.”
Memphis International is undergoing an expansion and beautification program that includes a new parking facility.
Hopes are a Southwest ticket counter would help fill the garage.
But Southwest’s Brad Hawkins says it could take some time, “There are aircraft that have to be completely re-configured and re-painted. And to western Tennesseans we say, please stay patient, we’re as excited to serve your area as you are to have Southwest service.”