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Will Jet Blue, Southwest ever fly from Medford?

It would be great to get another airline like Southwest or Jet Blue in Medford. What are the chances?

— Philip T., via Internet

It would be easy to write off the Medford/Rogue Valley/Southern Oregon market for any number of reasons.

In some respect, we've already made inroads in the low-cost carrier approach with Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air, providing service to Las Vegas, Los Angeles — and sometimes Arizona.

Southwest Airlines typically targets secondary airports in larger markets, such as Love Field in Dallas and Midway in Chicago, and even tried to elbow in at Boeing Field, between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac airport a few miles to the south.

Since its acquisition of fellow discounter AirTran five years ago, Dallas-based Southwest has dropped many of AirTran's smaller stops. Southwest's fleet of 737s generally fly full, making it challenging for smaller markets.

"We fly to Corpus Christi, Greenville (S.C.), Spartanburg (S.C.) and Spokane, so we do go to smaller markets," said spokesperson Thais Hanson. "If you build the demand, we will come. We're looking for opportunities to fill planes. In some smaller markets, the opportunity just isn't there."

When it comes to New York-based Jet Blue think: Location, location, location. A map of Jet Blue destinations is heavily south and east of this neck of the woods and extends even farther into the Caribbean, Central and South America. While there are some smaller airports in the mix, those tend to be vacation or getaway locations.

"Just yesterday (Thursday) we launched a route between JFK and Palm Springs," said Jet Blue spokesman Morgan Johnston. "We're always growing and looking for new destinations."

There are only so many airplanes and pilots to go around, Johnston said, repeating an oft-used phrase in his industry.

"When we start a new route, we're looking at the number of people who want to go there as a destination rather than the amount of originating traffic," Johnstone said. "We want to have the greatest impact for both us and the communities we fly."

The nearest Jet Blue stops to Medford are Portland, Sacramento, Calif., and Reno, Nev. But a key factor for Jet Blue is what it calls focus cities, something other airlines might refer to as hubs.

"Long Beach is our West Coast focus city," Johnston said. "Our focus cities are where most of our traffic is coming from."

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.