DALLAS, Aug. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) is excited to announce that LUV has officially landed in West Michigan with service to Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR). The Grand Rapids community rolled out the red carpet today as Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan (RAAWM) Founder & Chairman Dick DeVos joined the Gerald R. Ford International Airport officials and community leaders in welcoming Southwest's first Customers to Grand Rapids.
Southwest attributes its entrance into the market to the roots planted by its wholly-owned subsidiary AirTran Airways. AirTran served three daily nonstop departures to Baltimore/Washington International Airport and Orlando International Airport. Southwest doubles service options with six daily departures to Baltimore/Washington, Orlando, St. Louis, and Denver, connecting Customers to more than 70 destinations—a 35 percent increase in cities served. And beginning next spring, the carrier will add daily nonstop departures to Ft. Myers and Tampa Bay.
"Our arrival in Grand Rapids represents one of the true benefits of our integration with AirTran Airways, allowing us to continue to bring low fares and legendary Customer Service to the People of Grand Rapids," said Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President, Ron Ricks. "We're thrilled to provide West Michigan Customers access to our broad network of destinations; and just as importantly, giving better access to Michigan for our existing Customers across America. This growth is exciting for Southwest Airlines."
With the introduction of Southwest's larger Boeing 737 aircraft to the market, passenger seat availability will increase 117 percent, up dramatically from approximately 2,600 seats per week available on AirTran to Southwest's availability of more than 5,800 seats per week. Southwest's vast network will provide Grand Rapids Customers with more availability and better options.
"Today is a special day for West Michigan with the addition of Southwest Airlines in our market," said Brian Ryks, Executive Director of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. "We appreciate Southwest embracing our community to bring the very best in air service and we are eager to expand our partnership as we promote LUV throughout West Michigan."
Southwest celebrated its inaugural Grand Rapids service today with a press conference and welcome reception at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Southwest showed its dedication to the community by partnering with Make-A-Wish® Michigan to help make a child's wish come true. Southwest and Make-A-Wish Michigan will help send five-year-old Aryka and her family from Grand Rapids to Orlando to go to Walt Disney World® Resort.
To celebrate the new service nationwide, Southwest is offering great low fares for Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Orlando (MCO), St. Louis (STL), and Denver (DEN). These incredibly low fares are available for purchase on southwest.com through August 14, 2013, 11:59 p.m. for the respective time zone of the originating city, for travel every day except Fridays and Sundays beginning September 1 through December 18, 2013 (blackout dates apply; 21-advanced purchase required; check fare rules for restrictions).
Southwest Airlines' inflight publication Spirit Magazine is celebrating the new service with its Customers nationwide with a special feature on Grand Rapids and by launching an enter-to-win sweepstakes for a chance to win a three-night Grand Rapids Travel Package! The package includes two roundtrip tickets on Southwest Airlines, a three-night stay in downtown Grand Rapids compliments of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, an Experience Grand Rapids welcome gift with tickets to area attractions, and a $250 Amway Ribbon Choices Gift Card! For official rules and entry, visit www.southwest.com/spiritmag. No purchase or obligation necessary. Void where prohibited. Must be 21 and a legal U.S. resident to enter. Sweepstakes ends August 31, 2013.
ABOUT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.
In its 42nd year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by nearly 46,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually. Southwest is the nation's largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded, and including wholly-owned subsidiary, AirTran Airways, operates the largest fleet of Boeing aircraft in the world to serve 97 destinations in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and six near-international countries. Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for its triple bottom line approach that takes into account the carrier's performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities it serves, and its commitment to efficiency and the planet. The 2012 Southwest Airlines One Report™ can be found at southwest.com/citizenship.
From its first flights on June 18, 1971, Southwest Airlines launched an era of unprecedented affordability in air travel quantified by the U.S. Department of Transportation as "The Southwest Effect," a lowering of fares and increase in passenger traffic wherever the carrier serves. On every flight, Southwest offers Customers the first two pieces of checked luggage (weight and size limitations apply) and all ticket changes without additional fees. Southwest's all Boeing fleet consistently offers leather seating and the comfort of full-size cabins, many of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi connectivity and a new, sustainable cabin interior. With 40 consecutive years of profitability, the People of Southwest operate nearly 3,400 flights a day and serve communities around 85 airports in Southwest's network of domestic destinations. Southwest Airlines' frequent flights and low fares are available only at southwest.com.
AirTran Airways, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southwest Airlines Co., offers coast-to-coast and near-international service with close to 600 flights a day to 47 destinations. The carrier's high-quality product includes assigned seating and Business Class. As Southwest continues to integrate AirTran's People, places, and planes into Southwest Airlines, Customers of both carriers may book flights at airtran.com and exchange earned loyalty points between both AirTran's A+ Rewards® and Southwest's Rapid Rewards® for reward travel on either airline.
GERALD R. FORD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
The Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) is the second busiest airport in Michigan. The airport served over two million passengers in 2012 and over 6,000 travelers pass through GFIA each day. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport offers non-stop service to 23 major market destinations with 120 daily non-stop flights. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport is managed and operated by the Kent County Department of Aeronautics. GFIA generates over $500 million annually in economic activity throughout West Michigan and employs over 1,800 people. For more information on GFIA visit: www.flyford.org or follow the airport on Twitter: @FlyGRFord.
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FARE RULES
Fares are available only on southwest.com or swabiz.com and can be purchased through August 14, 2013, 11:59 pm for the respective time zone of the originating city. Travel requires 21-day advance purchase. Travel must take place between Sept. 1 and Dec. 18, 2013. Travel is valid every day except Fridays and Sundays. Blackout dates apply for Sept. 2 and Nov. 26 through Dec. 3, 2013. Displayed fares include all government taxes and fees. Advertised fares are based on nonstop service, and seats are limited. Fares may vary by destinations, flight, and day of week and won't be available on some flights that operate during very busy travel times and holiday periods. Fares are available for one-way travel. Fares may be combined with other combinable fares. If combining with other fares, the most restrictive fare rules apply. When combining fares, all rules and restrictions apply. Fares are nonrefundable but may be applied toward the purchase of future travel on Southwest Airlines as long as itineraries containing DING! or Wanna Get Away fare segments are cancelled at least ten minutes prior to scheduled departure (for travel beginning Sept. 13, 2013). Fares are not available through the Group Desk. Any change in the itinerary may result in an increase in fare. Standby travel requires an upgrade to the Anytime fare. Fares are subject to change until ticketed. Fares are valid on published, scheduled service only.
SOURCE Southwest Airlines