While most other airlines are cutting back capacity and eliminating routes, upstart low-cost carrier Virgin America is plunging ahead with expansion plans: The California-based airline announced Monday, December 8, that will begin serving Boston's Logan Airport on February 12 with two daily round-trips from San Francisco and three daily round-trips from Los Angeles. One-way fares will start at $149 in economy, $570 in premium economy, and $999 in first class.
As a Boston-area resident, I can say most local travelers will appreciate Virgin's new service. It's not Southwest—the well connected low-cost airline we've been waiting on for years—but it is an airline that promises affordable flights to two popular West Coast cities a with comfortable and entertaining onboard flight experience.
Boston's gain is another city's loss. Just days before announcing its Boston move, Virgin was forced to drop plans for service to Chicago O'Hare. According to the Chicago Tribune, the airline was not able to successfully secure any O'Hare gates. Almost all gates are currently leased through 2018 by major airlines including American, United, and Delta, which, despite having collectively reduced their capacity at O'Hare by 23 percent since 2000, refused to give up any gates to Virgin America. So effectively, those major airlines have told O'Hare flyers to take their high prices and eat them.
The city of Chicago will feel the pain too. "Virgin's decision is a blow to O'Hare and city of Chicago officials, who are struggling to recruit new airlines to offset a drop in the airport's operations, which threatens to lower city revenues," wrote Tribune reporter Julie Johnsson.
Are you a Boston or Chicago area resident? If so, what do you think Virgin America's moves?