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Southwest Announces Boston Routes

Southwest announced it will begin service from Boston’s Logan Airport to Chicago (Midway) and Baltimore on August 16. The airline will fly five daily nonstops to each of those cities, and New Englanders will be able to connect to a total of 48 destinations from Boston. Introductory fares start at $89 to Chicago and $49 to Baltimore, for flights booked by April 20 and flown between August 17 and October 29.

This gives Southwest a major presence in all three major Northeast markets, from the Washington, D.C., area (Baltimore and limited service from Dulles) right on up to Boston. This is an incredibly busy corridor, with airlines, trains, and buses all fighting for business.

But as I reported last week, Southwest faces some major hurdles with its new expansion. Boston’s airspace may not be as saturated as New York’s, but Logan is a major departure point for Delta, American, and JetBlue, all of which offer far more nonstop flights than Southwest will. As in New York, Southwest will have to significantly undercut prices on these routes if it hopes to be successful.

Legacy lines are easy targets for Southwest, because it can usually beat their prices and offers a stark contrast when it comes to fees. But JetBlue is another story. Logan is JetBlue’s second busiest airport and Boston is one of its focus cities, and the carrier offers numerous nonstop routes to major Southwest destinations like Florida and the West Coast. JetBlue has a very reasonable fee structure, more onboard amenities than Southwest, and can generally match Southwest’s prices. Plus, it’s already established and successful in Boston, and will likely fight hard to protect its turf.

So can Southwest go go toe-to-toe with another popular low-cost carrier? That will be something to watch.

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