Southwest has had service to the “Boston area” for a dozen years now through their operations at Providence, RI and Manchester, NH. Later this year they are going to dive in to the heart of Beantown, opening up service to Boston’s Logan airport. The initial service will be reasonably small – only two gates – but they are going in with what appear to be reasonably grand ambitions.
I applaud Southwest for going after the bigger, central airports. There really aren’t many more secondary airports left and they want to continue to grow their operations. As pointed out over on the Hudson Crossing blog, service in San Francisco and Denver has been pretty solid, and they basically eviscerated US Airways’s service in Philadelphia. But in the latter two of those they didn’t really have much of an operation in the area. In the case of Boston they do. Big time. They operate 60 flights a day between PVD and MHT. And while they probably won’t get many more than 10-15 initially with their two gates at BOS, I cannot help but wonder if this action is going to be killing the goose that lays the golden egg for them in that region.
Interestingly enough, it seems that jetBlue might be the competitor that suffers the most from this. They are the largest single carrier in Boston (though the combined Northwelta will surpass them when the stats are combined).
No firm details on destinations (assume typical focus cities until something surprising gets announced) or schedules yet. They did acknowledge that they plan to do it without bringing more planes online:
The Logan service will be made possible by the airline optimizing its current flight schedule and repositioning aircraft. Southwest has not changed its previously announced plan to reduce the Company’s available seat miles by approximately four percent in 2009 compared to 2008.
So that tidbit is interesting. Seems like there is potential to see more leisure routes sacrificed in the name of the business routes. Besides, with other carriers destroying their frequent flier programs, there doesn’t seem to be much preventing folks from taking advantage of the Rapid Rewards program at this point.