Southwest to offer $59 flights to Boston area Service from BWI to Providence, R.I., is to begin Oct. 27

July 31, 1996|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,SUN STAFF

Southwest Airlines said yesterday that it will begin service from BWI to Providence, R.I., Oct. 27 with $59 unrestricted one-way fares, a move that could push down ticket prices to the popular Boston market, less than an hour away.

The Dallas-based discount carrier said it will operate eight nonstop flights a day on its 133-seat Boeing 737s to and from Providence's T. F. Green Airport. The airline also announced new service from Providence to Chicago, Tampa, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., and Orlando, Fla.

Southwest officials said that the $59 will be its permanent fare from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Providence and that one-way fares as low as $39 will be available on a more limited basis.

"This is categorically not just an introductory fare," said Dave Ridley, Southwest's vice president of marketing and sales. "We entered the Baltimore-Cleveland market at that level a couple years ago and we're all the way up to $69 today."

"We can make money at those kind of fares because of our operating costs advantage," he added. In the second quarter, Southwest spent 7.5 cents to fly a passenger one mile. That compares to an industrywide average of nearly 10 cents and more than 11 cents for USAir, the largest carrier at BWI.

A spokesman for USAir said yesterday that the Arlington, Va.-based carrier, which operates three flights a day to Providence and nine to Boston, is reviewing Southwest's new fares.

"We're aware of it, we're studying it and in general we are competitive," said Richard Weintraub of USAir. USAir offers a restricted, 21-day advance purchase, round-trip ticket of $178 to Providence and $231 to Boston.

Southwest's schedule to Providence offers a surprisingly large number of daily flights for a start-up service. But, Ridley said: "The fact that we are planning eight nonstop flights a day to Providence says that we believe there is a significant untapped travel market between the Baltimore-D.C. area and southern New England."

Southwest's choice of the Providence-area airport, located in Warwick, R.I., just south of the city, 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.

Ground transportation -- taxis and van service -- is offered from the Providence airport to Boston. A spokesman for Greyhound Lines Inc. in Dallas said yesterday that the company is negotiating with Providence airport officials to begin direct bus service from the airport to Boston in late September.

Pub Date: 7/31/96

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