BOSTON (CBS) – Southwest Airlines is in a period of transition. The result of many changes will not be seen at Logan Airport for the next 12 months.
The carrier announced earlier this month that it would begin one daily non-stop flight from Boston to Nashville on August 12. But that service replaces Phoenix service that was the last market added at Logan in September 2010.
Southwest is being careful to upset as few customers as possible as it integrates Air Tran flights into its operations. The airlines share gates and counter space in Terminal E at Logan Airport. A new international reservation system is being put into place as the airlines combine operations.
Once Southwest completes the Air Tran merger, Boston passengers can look forward to more domestic flights to Atlanta and Orlando, former Air Tran hubs. The combined airlines will have about 25 percent of the US passenger count. At Logan, that figure is just over 10 percent, but is expected to grow.
Southwest is the number one airline serving both Manchester and Providence.
International flights will be added this year for the first time under the Southwest banner. The airline also wants to build an international terminal at Houston’s Hobby Airport that would open in 2015.
Next year the airline could look at connecting flights from Boston to Aruba, Cancun, Nassau, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic all of which are currently served by
non-stop flights on JetBlue Airways.
Even though fuel costs are down and passenger counts are up, Southwest will defer delivery of 30 Boeing 737-800 for up to four years. This will result in a saving of $1 billion.
Southwest has been profitable for 39 consecutive years and no other major US airline can make that claim.
The airline continues to promote flights from Boston, Manchester and Providence to Chicago in its current advertising on Red Sox baseball TV broadcasts. It is in major competition with American, JetBlue and United to Chicago. All of these carriers are targeting business travelers.
While Southwest is known for its low fares and no extra charges for an extra bag, the true low cost airline now serving Logan Airport is Spirit Airlines with even lower fares.
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