Southwest Airlines to add new Nashville crew base

Southwest Airlines Tennessee One aircraft on the taxiway.
Photo Credit: Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is reinforcing its dedication to Nashville, the Music City, with the upcoming addition of a Crew Base at Nashville International Airport (BNA) in the second quarter of 2024.

This move marks Southwest’s commitment to expanding its operations and presence in Middle Tennessee.

A Boost for Nashville Air Travel

The establishment of a Crew Base at Nashville International Airport marks a significant milestone for Southwest Airlines.

This addition will make Nashville the 12th Crew Base within the Southwest® system, underscoring the airline’s intention to grow its team of Pilots and Flight Attendants.

The initial phase will witness around 150-250 Pilots, with plans to expand to 500-600 Pilots, and an estimated 500-700 Flight Attendants stationed at the new Crew location by 2024, while also considering further growth in the future.


Andrew Watterson, Chief Operating Officer at Southwest Airlines, emphasized the importance of Nashville to the airline’s success, future growth, and operational reliability.

According to Watterson, many Southwest employees already consider Middle Tennessee their hometown due to their connection with the area. This Crew Base expansion is a testament to the integral role Nashville plays in Southwest’s network.

Southwest’s Historical Ties with Nashville

Southwest Airlines first introduced its service to Nashville International Airport on March 18, 1986. Initially offering eight daily nonstop flights to Chicago (Midway) and Houston (Hobby), Southwest has since expanded its operations significantly.

Today, Southwest stands as the largest carrier at BNA, operating up to 166 departures each day, providing nonstop connections to 57 cities.

To bolster its commitment to Nashville, Southwest is actively working on enhancing its operations. The airline has plans to add four additional gates in the fourth quarter of 2023, with an ultimate goal of achieving a total of 20 gates by the end of the year.

This expansion aims to facilitate smoother travel experiences for customers flying to and from Nashville.

Celebrating Tennessee

In 2016, Southwest Airlines unveiled a specialty aircraft named Tennessee One. This aircraft proudly displays an artist’s interpretation of the Tennessee State flag, serving as a tribute to the state and its significance to the airline.

Additionally, Southwest commenced service to Memphis International Airport on November 3, 2013, with up to 14 daily nonstop flights to 10 cities, further enhancing its presence within the state.

Corporate Citizenship and Community Engagement

Southwest Airlines is deeply committed to corporate citizenship and actively engages in initiatives that foster economic, social, and environmental impact.

Through various partnerships and programs, Southwest encourages its employees to make positive contributions to their communities.

In 2022, the airline invested over $180,000 and saw its employees dedicate 722 volunteer hours to support 30 different organizations throughout the state.

Tennessee’s Optimistic Outlook

Governor Bill Lee expressed his enthusiasm for Southwest Airlines’ decision to establish a Crew Base in Tennessee. As a renowned global travel destination and business hub, Tennessee is positioned ideally for this expansion.

Governor Lee looks forward to the positive economic influence, job creation, and opportunities that this expansion will bring to the region.

Investment and Infrastructure

Southwest Airlines remains committed to enhancing the Nashville experience for both customers and employees. The recently renovated Grand Lobby at BNA showcases the airline’s commitment to providing an exceptional customer experience.

Furthermore, Southwest continues to invest in airport infrastructure, bolster equipment availability, and enhance winter preparedness, ensuring the airline’s operations maintain optimal reliability even in challenging weather conditions.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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