Delta to add Philadelphia flights
As of November, three to fly there from Boston
Travel to the City of Brotherly Love will soon turn into a three-way brawl.
Delta Air Lines Inc. said yesterday it will begin offering four daily flights from Logan International Airport to Philadelphia International on Nov. 5, taking on a route that US Airways dominates and AirTran Airways has been fighting to crack.
The Delta flights to Philadelphia, on 50- and 70-seat jets, are among several routes being launched this fall at Logan. Delta begins nonstop service to Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 6. Three days later, Alaska Airlines will begin the first nonstop service from Logan to Portland, Ore., since Delta covered that route for seven months in 1998 as part of a later-aborted strategy of using Portland as a Pacific hub.
And on Nov. 7, AirTran Airways will resume seasonal daily service for a second year from Logan to Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Fla., offering an alternative to Delta. AirTran said yesterday it will add a second daily flight Feb. 14, right as the Boston Red Sox begin spring training in Fort Myers.
Delta's move into Boston-Philadelphia service could make that market -- long dominated by US Airways, which has its main hub in Philadelphia -- more competitive than it has been in years.
US Airways currently offers 17 weekday flights from Logan to Philadelphia, according to the Official Airline Guide, running roughly hourly from 5:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. AirTran has three flights. While Amtrak's high-speed Acela trains strongly challenge air shuttles to New York in overall door-to-door travel time, Amtrak is considered much less of a factor in Boston-Philadelphia service because the Acela takes 4 hours and 50 minutes, flights usually 90 minutes.
With the heaviest schedule, US Airways commands 69 percent of passenger volume between Boston and Philadelphia, compared to just 20 percent for AirTran, according to FareReport.com, a website that analyzes US Transportation Department data. Delta is charging typically $266 to $296 round-trip for the Boston-Philadelphia flights, not counting taxes and fees, its website showed yesterday afternoon. That compares to an average $288 fare on US Airways, FareReport.com says.
Delta dipped a toe into the Greater Philadelphia travel market last winter when it began offering three daily regional-jet flights to Trenton, about 30 miles northeast of Philadelphia.
US Airways spokesman Philip Gee said the airline will continue to offer even more daily flights from Boston to Philadelphia than it does to New York or Washington, D.C., and noted travelers from Boston can connect at its Philadelphia hub to 427 daily flights to 114 destinations, including 19 in Europe. Philadelphia is not a hub for Delta.
Logan spokesman Phil Orlandella said airline officials were pleased by all the routes being launched. "Providing the traveling public with more options to existing destinations and new destinations is part of our customer-service goals at Logan, and these new additions certainly give those choices to our customers."
Peter J. Howe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.