Southwest moves up a notch at Denver.

Southwest Airlines is now the number 2 carrier at Denver with Frontier Airlines (as well as Republic Airways flying) dropping to number 3 now.  The good news:  this is more at the expense of United Airlines than Frontier.  the bad news:  dominance is dominance. 

I’m not entirely surprised at SWA’s success at Denver but I do think that, like others, it is a bit surprising that this took as long as it did.  United, Frontier and Southwest have been in a pitched battle for that market for years now.  This was never a battle about SWA beating Frontier.  This battle was about SWA owning market share and pushing out more expensive incumbents.  That would be United.

Frontier never was and still is not big enough to be a real threat to Southwest.  Based on Frontier’s route decisions, they aren’t going to be a real threat to SWA either.  Frontier is looking for low hanging fruit that has little or no competition.  Southwest is connecting focus cities to focus cities region by region and sees Denver as a good place to establish itself on several of those mainline routes. 

If anyone should fear Southwest, it’s United.  You can’t sustain attacks from two low cost carriers forever and stick around.  As the ContiUnited merger plays out in integration, I expect Denver to look less and less important to that airline as a hub.

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