Southwest adds flights to Hartford, Conn.

Move bolsters BWI as East Coast hub for airline

Air travel

July 14, 1999|By Robert Little | Robert Little,SUN STAFF

Southwest Airlines further cemented its role as the dominant carrier at Baltimore-Washington International Airport yesterday, announcing that it will expand service to Connecticut's Bradley International Airport near Hartford.

The Dallas-based airline will fly 12 daily flights to Bradley beginning Oct. 31, eight of them from BWI.

The move is the latest in a long list of East Coast expansions for Southwest, which recently surpassed US Airways as the top airline at BWI. Since its 1993 arrival in Baltimore, Southwest has steadily built the airport into its main East Coast hub.

"We're clearly their anchor of East Coast operations, and this shows a real commitment to that," said Nicholas J. Schaus, acting executive director of BWI. "I think it's wonderful for BWI and for the state of Maryland."

The new service tightens Southwest's hold on the fringes of the New England market. Its recent expansions include other secondary airports in the Northeast, such as Providence, R.I.; Manchester, N.H.; and Islip, Long Island.

In keeping with its corporate strategy, Southwest announced introductory fares well below the industry norm, as low as $39 one way.

US Airways flies six daily flights between BWI and Bradley International Airport, with fares as low as $59 when purchased in advance. Walk-up fares are as high as $277 one way.

Travel agents suggested that Southwest's arrival in Connecticut is likely to have the same consequence as in nearly every other city where Southwest has expanded: Other airlines' fares drop, and they lift many of the restrictions on their cheapest tickets.

"Fares go down across the board, usually, at least for a short time," said B. J. Cook, assistant manager of Roland Park Travel. "And they'll probably force US Airways to not require a Saturday night stay for its cheapest fares."

Southwest has 86 daily flights from BWI. It handled more than 458,000 passengers in May, 50 percent more than in May of last year. US Airways, long the dominant airline in Baltimore, flew 386,000 passengers in May, according to the Maryland Aviation Administration.

Besides adding the new flights from BWI, Southwest will have two flights to Bradley from Chicago, one from Nashville, Tenn., and one from Orlando, Fla.

Bradley is north of Hartford and is also the primary arrival and departure point for travelers in Springfield, Mass.

Pub Date: 7/14/99

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