Southwest adding new route Airline, as expected, to serve Manchester, N.H., from BWI

Transportation

March 18, 1998|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,SUN STAFF

Southwest Airlines announced yesterday that it will begin daily service from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Manchester, N.H., on June 7, with eight nonstop flights a day.

The move, which has long been expected, will increase the Dallas-based carrier's service here to 60 flights a day, more than double the number just two years ago. It is the second expansion northward by the airline, which also offers eight flights a day to Providence, R.I.

Southwest avoids flying into busy, congested airports, such as Logan International in Boston, instead serving nearby airports. Like Providence, Manchester is located just 45 minutes from downtown Boston.

Southwest said it will offer $66 one-way fares between Baltimore and Manchester with no restrictions and a lower fare of $78 round trip for seats purchased seven days in advance. Those seats are limited, with an overnight stay required.

The Manchester service is the third major move by Southwest in recent months that underscores the carrier's commitment to BWI. Southwest also plans to establish a 200-pilot base here, its sixth in the nation. It also is expected to sign a long-term lease on a $73 million expansion of Pier B at BWI.

The addition of 10 gates will give Southwest a total of 16 gates on Pier B and the capacity to operate up to 160 flights a day. The airline typically operates 10 flights a day per gate at its busiest airports.

Southwest would not comment yesterday on where it will expand next. "We're still looking. We're not done," said Dave Ridley, Southwest's vice president of marketing. Further expansion may not occur in 1998, he said, because new aircraft have not been readily available from Boeing because of its production difficulties.

In addition to the eight flights a day between Manchester and Baltimore, Southwest also plans to begin two flights a day from Manchester to Chicago, one to Nashville and one to Orlando.

Meanwhile, US Airways is moving forth with plans to launch its discount service, known as Metrojet, on June 1 at BWI. MetroJet will fly to four destinations: Manchester, Providence, Ft. Lauderdale, and Cleveland.

The airline's strategy will mirror Southwest's: moving passengers quickly, nonstop, with few frills and a simple fare structure.

Pub Date: 3/18/98

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