Is Southwest Airlines About To Buy Another Airline? Its Pilots Seem To Think So

The Southwest Airlines pilot union is hiring several law firms in preparation for the carrier potentially acquiring another airline. Here’s a message that the union sent to Southwest pilots:

Last month, SWAPA made the decision to retain several law firms if Southwest attempts to acquire another carrier. One of those firms would be an experienced labor firm tasked with protecting SWAPA Pilots in a seniority list integration. The second — and possibly third — firm would handle the business and equity side of the transaction to ensure our Pilots were invested in the capital of the new entity. In 2010, then-SWAPA President Carl Kuwitsky and then-CEO Gary Kelly failed to follow Delta/Northwest’s lead in allowing the Pilots to be equity partners in the transaction when Southwest acquired AirTran. SWAPA will not make that mistake again.

Southwest Airlines

If the pilot union has been brought into a discussion of a possible merger, it needs to take great care not to breach confidentiality obligations. The message to pilots continues, “neither I, nor anyone at SWAPA, have any knowledge of an acquisition or merger in Southwest Airlines’ future” however “hope is not a strategy.” The union certainly thinks a merger or acquisition is in the offing for the airline.

Enilria comments, “The most likely party, by far, and one that was already highly rumored is JetBlue.”

While the two carriers (JetBlue and Southwest) have limited non-stop overlap, Southwest is already the nation’s largest domestic carrier and a merger of this sort would be a competitive tragedy in my opinion.

…Southwest likely sees JetBlue’s slot portfolio as extremely complimentary and in an unusual move Southwest exited many overlapping international routes from Ft Lauderdale (FLL), possibly to allow a merger to sail through more easily.

With Carl Icahn having taken a stake in JetBlue and getting board seats, a sale of the carrier – in whole or pieces – is certainly on the table.

Southwest has been struggling financially, but has the financial wherewithal to do this deal. They’re strong in congested airports in New York and Boston and has a strong presence in Florida where – international routes aside – Southwest is strong as well.

Such a merger would almost certainly face substantial opposition from a Biden administration Department of Justice. Some observers, then, would tend to rate its chances as dependent on the outcome of the presidential election. However baked into that assumption is the shaky belief that a second Trump Presidency would be similar to the first, placing ‘normie’ Republicans in positions of authority. Economic nationalists rather than pro-business or pro-market leaders seem far more likely.

Perhaps JetBlue, with its antitrust concerns, Airbus fleet, and incompatible product would be too ambitious. Enilria notes that a smaller acquisition of Sun Country and its Boeing 737 fleet could be possible. It would help to alleviate fleet constraints caused by Boeing production and regulatory problems.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @Tim Dunn

    No, you got banned off there for a while in 2021 for insulting others.

    I’m more than happy to provide a few links later to prove my point.

  2. and you repeat the exact same tactic of wanting someone banned and dragging up the past because you can’t stand that they are right.

    You are busy today and all you have done is confirm you don’t know what you are talking about.

    And you are vindictive and have accomplished nothing in terms of shutting me up… in fact, I am writing more than I did then.

    And AA still filed for BK which was the biggest thing that I said would happen and some people – likely yourself couldn’t handle – didn’t want to hear that. Or that US was the ugly girl that would destroy AA.

    I was dead right

  3. But I don’t see your Tim Dunn name back then-

    oh right. You still operated under the name worldtraveler and later atl100million on back then. Did you just admit to that?

    I’m not denying that your analysis can be good, but it’s heavily biased and hurts your reputation severely. I’m not the one who turns posts not about Delta to being about Delta

  4. You just don’t like the message that I have or have had to say.

    There are all kinds of people on this and other sites that use nowhere close to their real names.
    None of which changes that no efforts have been successful in shutting me up in 20 or more years. I’m going nowhere and my message is not changing.

    I doused early on in the conversation that WN would not compete against DL. That is a fact. because you don’t like or can’t see doesn’t make my comment inaccurate or inappropriate.

  5. You act like you’re some unstoppable God lol.

    It’s just a hobby and a comments section Tim. you take this way too seriously

  6. Breeze would give them access to 60 A220-300s and allow them to make a very needed jump form the 737. Having some aircraft competition would yield better prices from Boeing and Airbus. Can’t imagine DOJ having objections.

  7. so tell me why it is ok for you to keep coming back…. but not someone else.

    You want to be the last and only voice anyone hears or reads.

    You are smart and articulate but this is a conversation

  8. Is it possible that it could be Breeze ? Breeze is accepting A220s on a regular basis, and WN was looking at the A220 a few years ago. Since the 737 MAX 7 certification appears to be at least a two years away, these aircraft could provide additional lift for expansion. Breeze is possibly small enough not to ruffle the feathers of the DOJ. Also there are only a few routes which would be served by both. If WN maintained service to current Breeze destinations, it could use future A220 orders to expand he WN route map.

  9. “But I don’t see your Tim Dunn name back then-

    oh right. You still operated under the name worldtraveler and later atl100million on back then. Did you just admit to that?”

    wow… Tim got completely owned. Always funny how Tim lies about his past usernames and then eventually owns up to them depending on his inebriated state

  10. Everybody’s forgetting history.

    The moment Carl Ichan got on board JetBlue, it was a dead airline flying.

    Ichan has no interest in investing in a money-losing company with no reasonable expectation of that changing.

    Ichan will do with JetBlue what he did with TW: Go into Chapter 11, shut down the airline and sell the assets, leaving only a shell company. That way, there is no anti-trust issue.

    That business awhile back about United expanding in some sunny place, like FLL, has just a tad more credibility.

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