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With Southwest in Boston, What About Providence?

Following last week’s failed attempt to acquire Frontier, it must have been nice for Southwest to shift gears into the happier business of celebrating its first flights from Boston. But even as its employees handed out chowder, CEO Gary Kelly had to reassure Southwest loyalists around New England that the carrier’s presence in Logan won’t diminish its service in Providence or Manchester.

“There’s a very strong commitment to Providence,” Kelly told the Providence Journal. “It’s been a huge success story for us.” He said he would actually like to see service grow in Providence.

According to Kelly, the reason for adding Boston to its New England portfolio, is not that either Manchester or Providence are unsuccessful. Rather, he claimed “research shows we are not getting the customer from downtown Boston or who is going to downtown Boston … customers who won’t use Providence and Manchester because [those airports] don’t meet their needs.” In short: business travelers, mostly, and certainly some tourists who’d prefer to arrive in the city and not outside it.

So for now, it’s all about Boston and, likely, competing with JetBlue.

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