Gov. Lee Announces Southwest Airlines to Locate New Crew Base in Tennessee

Highlights Tennessee as global travel destination, creates anticipated 1,300 jobs
Tuesday, August 15, 2023 | 07:57am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced that Southwest Airlines® will locate its newest Crew Base at Tennessee’s Nashville International Airport (BNA) starting in 2024, creating an estimated 1,300 jobs and greater opportunity for Tennesseans across the region. 

“As a top global travel destination and business hub, Tennessee is the ideal location for Southwest Airlines’ newest Crew Base, and we look forward to the continued economic investment, job creation for newly based jobs and opportunity this expansion will bring for Tennesseans across the region,” said Gov. Lee. “We’re honored Southwest, a leading American company serving millions of travelers each year, will be expanding its reach to the Volunteer State.”

Southwest’s decision to locate its newest base in Tennessee is a testament to the state’s standing as a global travel destination and the continued growth of BNA, a key state and regional asset. The new base will bring quality jobs and even greater opportunity for Tennesseans across the state. 

Tennessee a Top State for Travel

This year, Tennessee celebrated a record $27.5 billion in travel spending in 2022, according to data from U.S. Travel and Tourism Economics. Among the top 25 states, Tennessee is the fastest-growing state in travel spending since 2018 and has risen from 14th to 11th in the nation for travel spending.

BNA a Key Asset for State & Region

Nashville International Airport (BNA), a tremendous state and regional asset, welcomes an average of 60,000 passengers per day for personal and business travel, including 24,500 passengers originating travel from BNA. 

Of the 24,500 travelers originating travel from BNA, 81.5% percent are from Tennessee and 18.5% are from surrounding states. An average of 71% of Tennessee travelers originate from counties outside of Davidson County.

New Jobs & Greater Opportunity for Tennesseans

Tennessee, ranked a top-three state for business in 2023, boasts an unmatched business climate, skilled workforce and central location, attracting more than $30 million in capital investment and creating more than 170,000 jobs for Tennesseans since 2019. 

Southwest Airlines’ decision to name BNA as its 12th Crew Base in the Southwest system is estimated to create an additional 1,300 jobs for Tennesseans, including approximately 150-250 pilots growing to 500-600 pilots, and roughly 500-700 flight attendants in the new Crew Base beginning in 2024, with continued growth planned. 

Tennessee and Southwest Airlines leaders expressed excitement and gratitude for the company’s latest Crew Base expansion: 

“Tourism is vital to our state’s economic health. We’re delighted to be part of the growth of a renowned brand like Southwest as they significantly expand their presence at BNA,” said Mark Ezell, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “This expansion will enhance our connectivity across the nation, while bringing even more visitors to Tennessee. More visitors drive more revenue and jobs for communities across our great state.”

“Tennessee’s pro-business climate continues to attract top brands to the state, and I appreciate Southwest Airlines for expanding its footprint by locating a new Crew Base at BNA,” said Stuart McWhorter, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. “Southwest is a trusted and preferred airline of many Tennesseans, and it means a great deal that the company has chosen to invest and create - new jobs here, which will have a lasting impact on the region for years to come.”

“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 the Reliability of our network,” said Andrew Watterson, Chief Operating Officer at Southwest Airlines. “Given our love for Nashville and the critical importance it plays 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.”

For more information on Southwest’s history in the Volunteer State, visit