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Southwest Promises Yearly Growth

In a new agreement with its pilots’ union, Southwest has pledged to grow its fleet by 5 percent each year. The growth is scheduled to take effect more or less immediately, but according to Terry Maxon at the Airline Biz Blog, “the union is cutting it some slack for 2009 and 2010, given the economic conditions.” (I guess both sides noticed we’re in a recession.)

More highlights, courtesy of Maxon:

  • “Southwest will not do a codesharing deal with another carrier for domestic routes.”
  • “[The airline] won’t furlough any pilots while it has a codesharing or marketing agreement in place.”
  • “The only regional jet codesharing ‘effectively’ allowed would be inter-island flying in Hawaii or the Caribbean.”

Clearly Southwest’s pilots are concerned about their jobs, and secured some solid protection in this agreement. The carrier has pledged to grow its service, but in a way that creates more opportunity for current Southwest pilots. If Southwest does enter a codeshare, these agreements prevent the airline from replacing existing service with that of another carrier, thus keeping Southwest pilots firmly in the cockpit.

For consumers, and especially for fans of Southwest, more growth means more options and likely more expansion. I have to wonder if the airline’s upcoming forays into the Boston and New York markets are simply a sign of more major-market growth to come (my guess is, yes it does). What do you think? If Southwest does intend to add more large cities, where would you like Southwest to fly?

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