Southwest to expand BWI crew

800 flight attendants to arrive this year

$28 million impact

`Continued faith'

Air carrier's plans link with expansion from East Coast base


April 09, 1999|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

Southwest Airlines Co. announced yesterday that it will bring a new crew base of 300 flight attendants to Baltimore-Washington International Airport in July and expand it to 800 by year-end -- a move expected to have an economic impact of $28 million annually on the state.

The crew base, to be located on the upper level of the terminal between Pier D and the International Pier, will increase the number of Southwest employees here to more than 1,500.

"We have grown extensively in Baltimore and hope to continue to grow," said Kristie Kerr, a spokeswoman for Southwest in Dallas. "We see Baltimore as the focal point of our growth on the East Coast."

Southwest operates 82 daily nonstop departures from BWI and has 23 percent of the market here -- second only to US Airways with its 32 percent. By September, when flight additions are completed, US Airways, Metro Jet and US Airways Express together will have 150 daily departures, according to a BWI official.

Southwest is expected to increase its daily flights from BWI to 150 over the next three or four years. Contracts recently have been approved by the Board of Public Works to begin construction of 10 gates on the airport's B pier for use by Southwest.

"We're excited to have them here," said Betsey Sanpere, a spokeswoman for BWI. "It shows that they have continued faith in BWI."

Southwest flies from BWI to Cleveland, Kansas City, St. Louis, New Orleans, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix and cities in Florida -- Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa. It also has flights to Birmingham, Ala.; Nashville, Tenn.; Providence, R.I.; Long Island, N.Y.; Manchester, N.H.; Jackson, Miss., and San Antonio.

The airline will add service to Raleigh-Durham, N.C., on June 6 with four daily nonstop flights. On Aug. 5, Southwest will add daily nonstop service to Las Vegas. Southwest also has direct or connecting service to 28 additional cities from BWI.

Southwest started service at BWI in September 1993 with eight daily flights. Today, the airline serves 54 cities in 27 states from BWI. That puts BWI ninth in the ranking of cities with the most Southwest departures.

In addition to the new flight attendant crew base at BWI, Southwest maintains crew bases in Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Chicago and Oakland, Calif. Systemwide, the carrier employs more than 5,250 flight attendants.

Southwest located a pilot base at BWI in April 1998, currently numbering more than 340 pilots. That pilot base is expected to contribute about $60 million annually to the state's economy.

Southwest generated net income of $433.4 million in 1998 and carried 52.6 million passengers, according to the airline's statistics.

"By Southwest coming, it brings in people from places that wouldn't ordinarily visit," said Sanpere. "This is the economic engine that drives the state."

Pub Date: 4/09/99

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