In case it wasn’t clear, the days of Southwest heading to secondary airports are over. Next stop? Boston. Flights begin, well, we don’t really know that. The airline has once again announced a new city/partnership without releasing any details (LaGuardia? WestJet? Anyone?). But, whenever it happens, it’ll be a small, two gate operation to start.
I’m a little surprised by the choice. While Islip is in no way a decent substitute for a New York City airport, Providence in the south and Manchester in the north have done a fair job over the years of pulling traffic from Boston. They stand to be the biggest losers in this announcement, and I have to think that they will end up losing flights, even if the Boston operation remains small.
Boston is the newest destination from Virgin America (though unless we see some highly unlikely transcons, they aren’t trying to compete with them), it’s one of JetBlue’s biggest locations, and AirTran has a strong presence, especially on routes that Southwest is most likely to enter (twice daily to Midway and seven times daily to Baltimore). So there’s plenty of low fare competition on many routes, but clearly that’s not stopping Southwest.
If they really are hell bent on serving every big city, as it seems, I’m surprised that Atlanta wasn’t next on the list. It’s THE southern city and it has nothing from Southwest closer than Birmingham, 150+ miles away from town. That city seemingly would bring more benefit to the Southwest system. I’d say maybe AirTran was driving them away, but they’re likely to be dropping right on top of AirTran with this Boston announcement as well.
Either way, I’m done guessing Cincinnati, Memphis and the usual suspects for new Southwest flying from now on. I think we’ll see them at Washington/National, Atlanta, and Miami if they keep this up. I just hope one of these days we start to get some details on their announcements.