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Thursday morning travel notes

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  April 23, 2009 09:22 AM

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Good morning, travelers. In case you missed it, in this morning's Globe I wrote a story about JetBlue's announcement that it would begin flying to Baltimore from Boston Sept. 9, another step in its plan to focus and grow its presence at Logan. The moves come a few months after luxury discounter Virgin America moved into town and days after Southwest detailed its plans for entry into the Boston market:

plans to announce today that on Sept. 9 it will begin daily flights from Logan International Airport to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Southwest Airlines earlier this month said it would launch service from Boston to Chicago Midway Airport and to Baltimore on Aug. 16.
JetBlue, which already has six daily nonstop flights between Boston and Washington Dulles International Airport, will offer four daily flights to Baltimore. Introductory prices will start at $39 for one-way fares purchased before May 4. Southwest said it will offer introductory fares as low as $89 one-way for Chicago and $49 one-way for Baltimore.
"JetBlue's in the business of giving customers more than the other guys, so today we are pleased to announce even more flights to the Washington area," said Scott Laurence, JetBlue vice president of network planning.
The new flights are good news for Boston travelers. When Southwest, which carries more passengers than any other US airline, enters a market, it tends to ratchet up pressure on rivals, driving down prices.
This may be particularly true at Logan, as it is not dominated by any single airline and already offers service from a number of other lower-fare carriers, including Virgin America, AirTran Airways, and Spirit Airlines.
"This move by JetBlue suggests that things will be much sweeter for the people in Boston," said Rick Seaney, chief executive of Farecompare.com, a website that tracks airline fares and trends.
Daniel M. Kasper, managing director of Cambridge aviation consulting firm LECG LLC, said yesterday that JetBlue's move is atypical of the so-called Southwest effect, in which "Southwest moves into a market and the legacy carriers cut their prices. This battle of discount carrier vs. discount carrier is a bit more unusual," he said.
But the move is in line with JetBlue's Boston strategy. The airline said in October that Boston was one of the three most important cities in its growth strategy, which focuses on luring more business travelers and charter flights for companies and teams. It also said it would increase its Logan operations this year.

Here's a link to the rest of the story.

*The government is opening up its records of tens of thousands of collisions of birds with airplanes, such as the accident that led US Airways Flight 1549 to ditch into the Hudson River. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, in a bow to the Obama administration's promise of greater openness, abandoned a controversial proposal to keep the records confidential. LaHood said since the White House felt comfortable releasing memos recently about secret interrogations of terrorism suspects, it was hard to justify the Federal Aviation Administration's plan to withhold information about birds flying around airports. "Public disclosure is our job," LaHood wrote Wednesday on his official blog. "The sea change in government transparency is beginning, and we are happy to be a part of it." FAA said in a statement that it will post the data online Friday. (AP)


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