• Southwest Airlines adding a crew base at Nashville International Airport, which will initially house 250 pilots and 700 cabin crew members.
  • Nashville is a crucial location for Southwest, with the airline now offering 166 daily departures and non-stop flights to 57 cities from the airport.
  • In addition to the crew base, Southwest Airlines plans to expand in Nashville, including adding more gates to improve operations.

Southwest Airlines is further strengthening its commitment to Nashville after announcing the addition of a crew base at Nashville International Airport in the second quarter of next year. The airport will become the 12th crew base for the low-cost carrier and will house an initial 250 pilots and about 700 cabin crew members, with more growth planned.

The significance of Nashville to Southwest

Nashville International Airport is an essential point for the budget carrier, which first began offering flight services on March 18th, 1986 - with eight daily non-stop departures to Chicago Midway International Airport and Houston's William P. Hobby Airport. Since then, Southwest Airlines has grown to operate more flights and serve more passengers.

Today, the airline is the most significant carrier at Nashville International Airport, offering up to 166 daily departures and non-stop flight services to 57 cities. The airport also houses nearly 1,000 Southwest Airlines employees, as Chief Operating Officer Andrew Watterson highlighted:

"Hundreds of Southwest Employees who work in the air and on the ground already consider their hometown to be in Middle Tennessee, with our presence in Nashville remaining a key factor to our success, future growth, and network reliability. Given our love for Nashville and its critical importance in our network, it's a natural choice to make further investments by adding a Crew Base and doubling down on our commitment to Music City."

With the new crew base set to open between the beginning to the second quarter of next year, the airline estimates that approximately 150 to 250 pilots will be housed there initially, and the numbers will eventually grow to about 500 to 600. The airline also anticipates an initial housing of 500 to 700 flight attendants and projects this number to similarly grow in the following years.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 N8801Q
Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Further expansions in Nashville

Besides launching a new crew base, Southwest Airlines has additional expansion plans for Nashville International Airport to reaffirm its commitment to the city and further develop the passenger experience. Such projects include striving to add four more gates in this year's fourth quarter to support efficient operations with a goal of 20 gates total by the end of the year to serve passengers better.

Earlier this year, Nashville International Airport unveiled a renovated and reimagined Grand Lobby, and the budget carrier is currently in the process of relocating its ticketing counters to enhance the passenger experience for those departing from the airport.

Southwest Airlines has also been continuously reinforcing airport infrastructure at Nashville. This includes increasing available equipment and solidifying its overall winter preparedness to help its employees operate more efficiently. It hopes it has done enough to bolster reliability in extreme weather - a factor that was the primary cause of most of the airline's disruptive meltdowns earlier this year.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX
Photo: EchoVisuals | Shutterstock

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Bottom line

With the new crew base set to house hundreds of crew members, Southwest Airlines likely has some route expansion plans up its wings for early next year, although only time will tell what the route network changes will be. And perhaps, this winter will be less harsh towards the budget carrier as it makes an effort to prepare for extreme weather.