Jackson Municipal Airport Authority confirms Southwest Airlines Departure from the City of Jackson

Today, JMAA’s CEO, Dirk B. Vanderleest confirmed that effective June 7, 2014, Southwest Airlines would no longer be providing air service to the City of Jackson and State of Mississippi. He also stated, “We appreciate the sixteen year relationship that the airport, City of Jackson and the State of Mississippi enjoyed with Southwest and its employees. Recognizing during difficult economic times, business plans need to be adjusted to ensure the highest levels of success, we understand that this choice was difficult but necessary.”

Airline service is critical to the economic development of the State of Mississippi, City of Jackson and to this airport. Vanderleest also stated, “This change does not result in elimination of air service access to any metro area served by Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport. Jackson still has strong air service provided by our other airline partners. We will be aggressively pursuing opportunities with other carriers.”

“This is not surprising in light of the challenges facing the airline industry in general and Southwest in particular,” said Michael Boyd, president of Boyd Group International, a consulting firm that has worked with the Jackson- Municipal Airport Authority for several years. “They recently acquired AirTran Airways, and are finding it necessary to rework their routes and reduce the total number of airliners they are flying.” Boyd noted that since the merger, Southwest has found it necessary to drop service to around 20 cities – some where they carried more passengers than at Jackson. “Southwest is evolving into a hubbing carrier, focusing on larger markets that can better support its costs.” While Jackson was a viable part of the Southwest system, the airline’s increasing operating costs resulted in the market being too small to continue to support service.”

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