Florida aviation in 2005 – Part 1

I recently engaged in a labor intensive analysis of multiple Official Airline Guides (OAG) copies from 2005 of routes to/from Florida. This was the era between several major airline failures and the most recent consolidation of the industry which also has spawned a new era of low cost carriers.

By Zanmat0 at English Wikipedia – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6905902

Below is an analysis of the number of destinations served by each airline that had a major presence in the state and some analysis of what happened to each airline since in Florida. Tomorrow we will print a list of destinations from each Florida airport served at the time.

Destinations served nonstop by airline (includes express/connection partners – DOES NOT include Codeshare)

Legacy airlines (5 or more destinations served nonstop)

Legacy – large Florida presence 


Miami                101

Fort Lauderdale   11

Orlando                 8

Tampa                   7

American’s Miami hub is the airline’s third largest in 2020 behind Dallas/Fort Worth and Charlotte. It’s Fort Lauderdale focus city was dismantled in 2012. American was bought by US Airways in 2013 and kept the American name. AA carried more passengers to Florida in 2019 than any other airline. 


Tampa               17

Fort Lauderdale 14

Miami                 11

West Palm Beach 7

Fort Myers  5

Key West 5

Orlando 5

Continental was merged into United who continues to struggle to maintain any Florida presence.


Orlando   51

Fort Lauderdale 26

Tampa 26

Fort Myers 8

Tallahassee 8

Pensacola 7

West Palm Beach 6

Miami    5 

Delta, the top airline in Florida in 2005, has retreated from most Florida destinations except Miami as low-fare competition from Spirit and JetBlue as well as the success of post AirTran-merger, Southwest and other factors have reduced its flying largely just to hubs. The airline had planned to launch a new international-flying Miami hub in 2020 with its equity partners but with COVID-19 it is assumed those plans will be shelved now. Delta filed for bankruptcy in 2005 and while many Florida destinations weren’t drawn down in terms of flights until several years later, the airline has never recovered its footing here. 

US Airways

Fort Lauderdale     24

Orlando                 10

Fort Myers            5

Tampa                   5

US Airways was Delta’s primary competition as the top airline in Florida from 1990 to 2004. In late 2004, US Airways entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Fort Lauderdale remained one of the few US Airways cities in its network with connecting options as the airline was trying to maintain a foothold in Latin America, so it was not drawn down the way other Florida destinations were until America West bought the carrier in 2006 but kept the US Airways name. But eventually Florida cities were all spokes in the network, a far cry from the heady days of the 1990’s when if you flew to or from Florida, it was likely you flew US Airways. 

Legacy (smaller Florida presence)


Orlando   7

Fort Lauderdale 6

Tampa 6

Fort Myers 5

Bought by Delta in 2009. 


Orlando 5

Southwest and AirTran

Southwest and Orlando-based AirTran merged in 2012 and became the top carrier in most large Florida markets*. 

*Southwest  lost the #1 position in Fort Lauderdale in the last year largely due to the 737MAX grounding, falling to third behind jetBlue and Spirit, but as recently as 2018 they were the number one airline in terms of domestic passengers carried from FLL. They finished 2019 as the number one carrier in Fort Myers, Orlando, and Tampa, three of the five busiest airports in the state (Miami and Fort Lauderdale are the other two) . Because Southwest has never served Miami, and American maintains a massive hub there, American carries more passengers to/from Florida than any other airline. But if you exclude Miami, Southwest is well in front.  In fact before the COVID-19 cuts, Southwest flew to over 45 destinations nonstop each from Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa. 


Orlando   15

Tampa     14

Fort Lauderdale 7

Fort Myers  5


Orlando                24

Tampa                  24

Fort Lauderdale   14

Jacksonville          8

Others with large Florida presence in 2005.


Fort Lauderdale  7

Orlando             5

JetBlue prior to the COVID-19 shutdown served over 50 destinations nonstop from Fort Lauderdale including 6 in South America. They also have a large presence in Orlando and are now the number one airline in West Palm Beach. However at the time they basically flew from Florida to New York and Boston. 


Fort Lauderdale   15

Spirit has grown into the 7th largest US Airline and the largest based in Florida. Fort Lauderdale and Orlando are the airline’s two largest bases, but the airline also now has major operations in Baltimore, Las Vegas, Chicago (O’Hare), Houston (Bush) and Dallas/Fort Worth. It’s other large operation in 2005 besides Fort Lauderdale was Detroit. That base remains about the same size as it was then. 

USA 3000

Fort Myers         10 

St Petersburg     6

Fort Lauderdale  5

Went out of business in 2012


Sanford              17 

Went out of business in 2005 – Allegiant by 2008 had replicated most of its flying from Sanford and in 2020 has a huge presence across the country connecting Sanford, St Petersburg and Punta Gorda with many destinations as well as Destin, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale with others. 

One comment

  1. […] Airlines and destination from 2005 are below – every Florida city listed had scheduled commercial flights in 2005. Part I is here. […]


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