says it will begin service to Boston's Logan International Airport this fall, continuing an aggressive push into airports it has long eschewed.
Already on this year's expansion list are Minneapolis, a fortress hub for
Northwest, where Southwest will begin service in March, and New York's LaGuardia, a poster child for congestion and delays, where Southwest has bid for slots previously operated by bankrupt
For years, Southwest distinguished itself by specifically avoiding such airports. But no more as the carrier seeks to boost revenue by going to airports with larger concentrations of local passengers.
"Today, more than ever, it's imperative that we make wise decisions on how and where we utilize our aircraft," Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said Thursday in a prepared statement.
Southwest didn't specify destinations or service levels from Boston, saying only that it will operate from two gates and will "begin with a conservative number of flights that will complement its 64 airport network."
Southwest said it will utilize aircraft already in its fleet and still plans to reduce capacity by 4% this year.
Southwest's New England service pattern reflects its long-standing approach to surround major urban areas with congested airports. Southwest has served Providence, R.I., since 1996 and Manchester, N.H., since 1998. From Providence, the carrier operates 31 daily departures to nine cities; from Manchester it operates 27 daily departures to eight cities.
Boston Logan has one of the country's most balanced airport service profiles, as five airlines each carry between 10% and 20% of its airport's passengers, according to the Bureau of Transportation. Currently
is the leading carrier with about 20% of the traffic under its winter schedule.
Other leaders are
, Delta and
Logan's top destinations, according to the Bureau of Transportation, are hubs in Chicago, Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., as well as LaGuardia and Washington's Reagan National. Southwest's statement that it will complement its existing network appears to indicate that for now, at least, it won't seek to establish a Northeast shuttle.