Southwest’s Dallas expansion has gaps


DALLAS (AP) — The second-guessing started about Southwest’s choice of routes to serve from Dallas when a 34-year-old federal law limiting long flights at Love Field expires this fall.

On Monday, CEO Gary Kelly announced Southwest Airlines Co. would fly nonstop between Dallas and 15 other cities. Southwest’s eight busiest airports by departures all made the cut, including Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. So did smaller but expanding operations in New York and Washington.

Talk soon turned to cities that didn’t make the cut.

Henry Harteveldt, a travel-industry analyst for Hudson Crossing, said all 15 cities on the list made sense, but he was surprised Oakland, Calif., Seattle and Boston weren’t added. Southwest said it operates 97 daily departures at Oakland — that’s more than half the cities that will get service to Dallas — plus 71 at San Jose, Calif., and 44 at San Francisco.

“They may plan to add these cities later as aircraft become available,” Harteveldt said.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the new flights will require offsetting cuts somewhere else until at least 2015, when the airline might expand its fleet.

The first 15 cities from Dallas are “just a start,” he said. “There’s plenty more that we want to do.” He declined to address specific cities.

Mike Boyd, a Colorado-based aviation consultant, said Southwest officials “don’t have much interest in New England,” partly because of the emergence of JetBlue as a strong player in Boston. All the new routes will face tough competition, he said.

“This is going to be good for the consumer and for Southwest, but it isn’t any slam dunk,” Boyd said.

 

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