Southwest Enters Philadelphia
Meeting planners see more savings as low-cost carriers expand
Dallas-based Southwest Airline’s upcoming service
to Philadelphia has won applause from planners, a response experts
predict will spread as low-fare carriers penetrate more hubs held
by the big six.
Southwest begins nonstop daily service in May from Philly to
Chicago Midway, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Providence and Tampa.
Last-minute one-way fares will cost $299 or less.
“We are thrilled,” said Sue Wagner, CMP, vice president of sales
and marketing at Premier Meetings Solutions, a West Conshohocken,
Pa.-based association management firm, adding that some of her
executives drive two hours to Baltimore for less expensive
“We’re hoping this will light a fire under US Airways,” Wagner
added. She expects Southwest’s fares to cost much less than those
now offered by the Arlington, Va.-based carrier, which pledged to
cut costs and streamline operations.
“They’ll have to match prices if they want to compete,” said Jay
Ellenby, president and CEO of Safe Harbors, a Baltimore-based
corporate travel management company. He added that US Airways,
which emerged from Chapter 11 last March, still faces a tough year.
While low-cost carriers have snatched up hubs before, the recent
surge is in response to the growing demand from business travelers,
“It’s difficult to predict where Southwest will go next,” said
Ellenby. “It was surprising that they chose Philadelphia, because
they usually opt for smaller airports with quick turnarounds.”
In today’s market, travelers can expect low-cost carriers to
move into airports that are underserved and overpriced. Ellenby
cited Dallas and Pittsburgh as two cities likely to draw new