Southwest arrived in 2009. "All along we have stated that while we have enjoyed success with our Manchester and Providence operations, we were not fully serving the Boston area," said spokesman Paul Flaningan. "People from the larger Central Boston area were not driving there to fly Southwest."

Consultant Mike Boyd said JetBlue forced Southwest's hand. "Southwest was living off Manchester and Providence, getting leakage out of Boston," he said. "But once JetBlue went there, the leakage stopped." Additionally, access to the airport eased in 2003 following completion of an early phase of the Big Dig construction project.

"Before, getting to the airport was like trying to get out of Saigon when it fell," said Boyd.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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