Southwest, Delta Expand Service

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Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines both made announcements earlier this week about plans to expand service.

Southwest announced its intention to add service to South Carolina through the cities of Charleston and Greenville-Spartanburg beginning in 2011.

Service will not be dependent on pending legislation to provide air service subsidies, according to the airline's press release.

Delta plans to add more flights between New York City and key global business destinations this year, with nearly 30 cities scheduled for new or expanded service by fall, according to the company's press release.

"We continue to see corporate travel demand improve across our network, particularly in New York," Gail Grimmett, Delta's senior vice president – New York, said in a statement. "With the economy rebounding, our New York customers can look forward to an expansion of flights to both domestic and international destinations throughout the remainder of 2010 as we respond to increased demand," Grimmett added.

Last week the airline reinstated year-round service from JFK to Shannon, Ireland and Manchester, England, and expanded its existing service to Brussels to include daily flights. Later this month, year-round nonstop service from JFK to Copenhagen and Stockholm will begin.

In September, Delta will offer an additional daily flight between JFK and London-Heathrow, expanding its service to three daily flights on a year-round basis. The new flight will feature Delta's new full-flat beds in the BusinessElite class.

Additional cities included in Delta's expanded service are Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Tokyo and Tel Aviv.

Henry H. Harteveldt, travel analyst for Forrester Research, said "Delta is trying to become the most convenient airline for New Yorkers flying from La Guardia and Kennedy." He added that the airline was "definitely taking aim at both JetBlue and American primarily," and to a lesser extent, Continental. He said it was interesting that not much expansion included Newark airport, Continental's hub. (A merger between Continental and United was recently announced.)

Southwest's expansion efforts, as well as those by Jet Blue and other low fare airlines, were "good for consumers," said Mr. Harteveldt, as other airlines won't have any choice but to respond to lower fares. "Frankly," he said, low fare carriers "keep prices in check."
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