Southwest plans to boost Hub service, local staff
The low-cost airline said yesterday that it will begin daily nonstop service to Phoenix, starting Sept. 7, bringing the total number of dailies at Logan to 26 from just 10 last summer. Southwest also said that it would increase its ground operations staff of customer service and ramp workers by 30 to a total of 70.
The single daily flight to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport will mark the sixth nonstop destination offered by the lower-price carrier since it launched service in August to Chicago Midway Airport and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. In September, Dallas-based Southwest said that it would add nonstop flights from Logan to Denver International Airport and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, and in February it revealed plans to start service to Philadelphia International Airport in June.
Analysts say that they are not surprised by Southwest’s aggressive expansion here.
“This is fairly typical for Southwest. Start small and expand to feed its hub/key markets,’’ said Henry H. Harteveldt, vice president and principal aviation analyst at
Daniel Kasper, head of the transportation practice at the Cambridge office of
“I think it says first that Southwest wants to establish a major presence in Boston and to become the low-cost carrier of choice on key routes to/from Boston before other [low-cost carriers] do so,’’ he said, particularly
Southwest already offered nonstop service to Arizona’s capital city from T.F. Green, near Providence, and Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, N.H. The airline also said yesterday that it would begin flying from Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport to Phoenix in August.
After adding the Philadelphia flights, which will grow to eight a day before summer’s end, and the Phoenix service, Southwest determined that it needed additional staff at Logan. Massport officials say that Southwest, which occupies two gates in Terminal E and has 40 customer service and ramp workers at Logan, will pick up a third gate by the time it begins flying to the City of Brotherly Love.
“Our plans have really ramped up pretty fast,’’ said Paul Flaningan, a Southwest spokesman.
Separately, federal regulators hit Southwest with a $200,000 fine for breaking rules on bumping passengers from oversold flights, according to the Associated Press. The US Transportation Department lets airlines sell more seats than they have available as some passengers fail to show up, but if too many passengers arrive, the agency requires airlines to first ask for volunteers to give up seats for compensation before bumping passengers. Travelers who involuntarily lose their seats are entitled to compensation and written statements detailing their rights along with an explanation of how the carrier decides who gets bumped.
Paul S. Makishima can be reached at Makishima@globe.com.