Southwest Airlines said yesterday that it will begin flying to Providence, R.I., in the fall, a long anticipated move that is expected to drive down fares to the popular Boston market from Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
The Dallas-based discount carrier said it will announce in August which cities it will serve from Providence's T. F. Green Airport, along with fares and schedules. As the airline's primary East Coast airport, BWI is likely to factor heavily in the service, set to begin Oct. 27.
Since Southwest made its East Coast debut at BWI nearly three years ago, it has pushed down prices in a number of markets. It now operates 31 nonstop flights a day to eight cities, with two Florida cities most recently added to its schedule.
The choice of the Providence area airport, located in War-
wick, R.I., is consistent with the airline's strategy of expanding gradually into uncrowded airports where its planes can land and take off quickly. Typically, it has avoided busy airports, like Logan International in Boston or National in Washington.
But Southwest officials said yesterday that they expect to draw passengers from both Providence and Boston, just 45 minutes north. The new service should push down prices in the Boston market, they said.
"It should affect prices the same way that our entry at BWI pushed down fares at Washington National and Dulles airports," said Joe Lamkin, manager of business development for Southwest in Dallas.
Currently, a typical round-trip fare from Baltimore to Boston, with a 21-day advance purchase and Saturday night stay, is $284, while the round-trip fare to Providence is $238. Providence is expected to be the last city Southwest will add to its schedule this year.
Airline officials said the recent purchase of new planes had enabled Southwest to begin the new service.
Pub Date: 6/08/96