OPEN LETTER TO SWA PREXY: Don’t leave out or forget Harlingen


To: Gary Kelly, president, CEO and chairman of the board for Southwest Airlines

From: Jerry Deal, editor-publisher Myleadernews, plus others

Subject: Consider Harlingen and Rio Grande Valley for SWA projects

Mr. Kelly,

It came to my attention via a Southwest Airlines press release received by me that the airlines is undertaking a multi-year commitment to Placmaking — “a movement that reimagines public spaces at the heart of every community.”
It further stated that SWA through its Heart of the Community program, will revitalize and activate public spaces in the hearts of American cities, in partnerhip with the pioneering nonprofit organization behind the Placemaking Project for Public Spaces.
The release states: “Rooted in community based participation, Placemaking involves the planning, design, management and programming of public spaces and capitalizes on a community assets and potential to create vibrant destinations — such as neighborhood parks, community markets and downtown squares.”
“Heart of the Community is part of Southwest’s broader efforts to connect people and strangthen local communities through its core business, charitable giving, community outreach and environmental initatives.”
This writer can visualize a number of projects that could be taken here. So, I plead with you and those involved, to not forget Harlingen and the RGV just because it is one of your smaller if not smallest markets.
There are those down here who have begun to feel a bit neglected by SWA.
They have pointed out the fact it was announced recently that two non-stop flights were eliminated, plus Harlingen is not included in special discount flights.
Some also believe that SWA has become so large and successful that it pays little attention to us here. Some of those also fear that SWA may eventually pull out of Harlingen, which would devastate air traffic here. Getting so large (maybe too big for its pants), they fear the SWA culture will diminish, especially with the recent purchase of another airlines. .
I don’t think that reasoning is entirely true. Times change and I know your company must consider economical choices. Also, I know SWA has played a major role in the local projects such as the Ronald McDonald House here.
Still, I may remind you of an old saying, that has been used by many, including the late Gov. Ann Richards. “Dance with the One Who Brung You.”
Well, remember that after SWA began its flights between San Antonio, Houston and Dallas, the fourth city that the airlines began flights in was Harlingen — in 1975.
We love SWA and hope that SWA still loves us.
Former CEO Herb Kelleher, the colorful head and who was one of two men who had visions of a low-cost efficient airlines, personally told me at the 25th anniversary party at Valley International Airport in 2000, celebrating SWA flying in and out of Harlingen, that “Southwest will remain in Harlingen as long as I live.”
. As one who flew the third day of flights from San Antonio to Dallas — for $10 — in 1973, I hope that the airlines continues here for much longer than that.

Editor’s Note: A copy of this letter will be sent to Mr. Kelly, as well as Harlingen city officials.

7 comments for “OPEN LETTER TO SWA PREXY: Don’t leave out or forget Harlingen

  1. erlkonig
    April 9, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    They probably wouldnt leave Harlingen, it’s just where there was once a huge advantage with nonstops to Austin Houston, Dallas and San Antonio along with lower fares is nullified by mainly flights out of Hobby with almost the same fare as American and United however those airlines have far superior hubs. And actually American (Eagle)/United will give you Waco, Killeen, Texarkana, College Station. I was hoping SW would take Harlingen in the other direction with nonstops to Vegas and Chicago or El Paso, but the new model seems to have all but prevent that from happening.

    • erlkonig
      April 10, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      By eliminating Love Field and SAT nonstop from Harlingen, VIA is basically no different than McAllen’s and Bronwsville’s airport when it comes to non-stop destinations. Worse actually, considering in the summer, all but one incoming and outgoing flights will name Houston as the destination. McAllen’s board will say, DFW, Houston, Las Vegas, Mexico City and sometimes Orlando and Los Angeles and presumably Denver. Brownsville’s board will say DFW and Houston.

  2. Kenneth J. Benton
    April 9, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Harlingen, the PLACE for Veterans

    * Iwo Jima Monument

    * Veteran’s Health Care Cluster

    * Transistional and Supportive Housing Program

    Yeap, Senor Deal, good job.

  3. erlkonig
    April 23, 2014 at 9:28 am

    “We also note that three of the five airports showing the biggest percentage increases were in Texas and have Southwest as their biggest airline: Midland (55 percent of traffic), Houston Hobby (89 percent) and El Paso (51 percent).”

    The difference between HRL and Midland/El Paso is that it is bad when Southwest raises fares because valley travelers will just migrate to other nearby airports. In El Paso and Midland, there are no other options, just different carriers at those airports. In other words, those airports don’t lose passengers, just the airlines lose/gain passengers.

  4. erlkonig
    April 30, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog confirmed Wednesday what airline passengers are finding when they try to book a flight: Service to communities of all sizes is declining, but especially to SMALL and MEDIUM airports.

    There are fewer flights and fewer airplane seats available than there were seven years ago, the Government Accountability Office said. Smaller destinations were particularly affected, with flights down as much as 24 percent and seats down as much as 18 percent since 2007. Flights have also declined 9 percent and seats 7 percent at large airports.

    Yikes. I believe all three valley airports would fit in the small to medium size category (maybe medium but barely if that). Also read somewhere that three of the four major airlines made considerable profits in the first quarter (SW, Delta, American). The sole loser being United Airlines. If this keeps up and United finally decides to consolidate in the valley, Harlingen needs to be the airport where it serves the region.

  5. yigal elohev
    May 11, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Have you received any response(s) to the letter?
    Jerry Deal comments: I received a message from Southwest Airlines and will publish the information in the near future.

Comments are closed.