Southwest Drops Seven Cities from Orange County

Southwest Airlines informally announced the termination of service from John Wayne-Orange County Airport to seven major cities within the United States and Mexico.  The termination of these seven routes from Orange County was discovered when Southwest quietly released its most recent schedule on November 1st.

Update: Southwest lost control of slots at John Wayne-Orange County Airport.  This lead to the following seven routes to be terminated. (Source)

John Wayne-Orange County Airport located near Santa Ana, California, had typically been a Southwest stronghold with the airline designating the airport a focus city.  In the past two years, Southwest commenced service from Orange County Airport to St. Louis, MO and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  The commencement of these routes hinted at strong demand, however, the recent route terminations would say otherwise.

Prior to yesterday’s route terminations, Southwest served the following cities from John Wayne-Orange County Airport; Austin, Dallas–Love, Denver, Houston–Hobby, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Mexico City, Oakland, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San José del Cabo, Seattle/Tacoma, seasonal service to Chicago-Midway.

John Wayne Airport serves as a secondary airport for the Los Angeles area with the airport often being more convenient for flyers in Orange County.  Though the airport is nowhere near as large as Los Angeles International Airport, John Wayne Airport sees roughly 10 million passengers a year.  That figure is up nearly 13% from 2012 when the airport saw 8.8 million passengers.

However, this growth did not correlate to successful service for Southwest.  Beginning in January, Southwest will terminate service from the airport to the follow cities;

CityDate of Termination
AustinJanuary 15, 2017
Kansas CityJanuary 15, 2017
Mexico CityJanuary 4, 2017
PortlandJanuary 15, 2017
Puerto VallartaMarch 25, 2017
St. LouisJanuary 15, 2017
SeattleJanuary 15, 2017


Four years of tremendous growth at John Wayne-Orange County Airport appears to be coming to an abrupt end, at least for Southwest.  Southwest Airlines currently carries 4.5 million passengers annually or nearly 46% of all passengers at the airport.  With these route cuts, Orange County Airport will lose the majority of its international flights and could see a steep decline in passengers in 2017.

There is no word from Southwest Airlines as of November 1st to why the airline made such dramatic and abrupt route cuts at John Wayne-Orange County Airport.