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All Things Travel: Southwest Airlines Goes International

By Bob Weiss, CBS Boston
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Southwest Airlines passenger planes are seen at Chicago's Midway Airport in Illinois. (Photo credit KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)

Southwest Airlines passenger planes are seen at Chicago’s Midway Airport in Illinois. (Photo credit KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Southwest Airlines is gearing up for more growth in New England with new international routes.

It is part of their merger with Air Tran Airways that will be completed on December 28th. You can now fly from Boston, Manchester or Providence airports and connect to the Caribbean Islands like Aruba through Baltimore starting last week.

The service, under the Southwest name, marks new expansion with international routes and this business is expected to grow in the next few years to Canada and Mexico.

You might be surprised to learn that Southwest carries more domestic passengers than its larger legacy carriers of American, Delta and United.

In 2002, Southwest Airlines flew to over 60 destinations in its route system. This year that figure is 92 cities.

The carrier came to New England almost 20 years ago and is now the largest airline serving Manchester and T.F. Green. Its business plan then called for avoiding the big airports and offering low fares and friendly service for leisure travelers.

It is now concentrating on developing more business travelers using the airlines and that means more flights from larger airports like Logan in Boston.

One of the factors that could slow future growth is the higher price of jet fuel, which accounts for about a third of its costs.

One of the biggest factors for Southwest’s future growth in Boston is its location in Terminal E at Logan. It is the only domestic carrier operating in that terminal that is about to undergo a $100 million expansion in the next two years.

Bob Weiss, CBS Boston travel contributor

Bob Weiss, CBS Boston travel contributor

With international arrivals and departures now accounting for about 20 percent of passenger traffic, Massport may want to move Southwest.

The only place for them to move would appear to be Terminal A where they would share the terminal with Delta Air Lines and occupy gates that were previously used by Continental Airlines that merged with United.

In a recent “Nightside” hour on WBZ NewsRadio devoted to the current woes experienced by air travelers, talk show host Dan Rea and listeners singled out two low cost carriers of Southwest and JetBlue as making air travel enjoyable these days.

All Things Travel Reports Can Be Heard On WBZ NewsRadio.

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