Southwest plans more Sacramento to N.Y. flights

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Apr. 8--Southwest Airlines will begin service to LaGuardia Airport in late June, connecting the 37-year-old carrier to the heart of the New York City metropolitan area.

The Dallas-based carrier, which generates half the flight traffic at Sacramento International Airport, announced the new service Tuesday and began offering online $99, one-way fares into the Big Apple from major cities, including Sacramento.

The online deal ends April 20 and is good for travel between June 29 and August 13. Service to LaGuardia begins June 28.

"It opens the world for us," said Paul Flaningan, a spokesman for Southwest.

Southwest already flies into Long Island MacArthur Airport near Islip on Long Island, about an hour east of New York City.

The nation's largest domestic carrier, Southwest is known for its hop-and-skip routes on longer flights. It will only offer nonstop flights into New York City from two cities: Chicago and Baltimore. Southwest has some nonstop flights from Sacramento to Midway Airport in Chicago.

The new service to LaGuardia from Sacramento, even with a few stops, could go toe to toe with another discount carrier, JetBlue, which offers direct flights from Sacramento to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Southwest bought another airline's 14 takeoff and landing slots at LaGuardia in December, opening the way for Southwest's unusual foray into a major urban airport.

Previously, Southwest had preferred smaller, less congested airports for ease of operations, but the carrier has recently added service to Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport and will begin flights into Boston's Logan International Airport later in the year.

Flaningan said the carrier is already in talks with Canadian and Mexican airlines, raising the possibility of international flights through Southwest.

As the airline is expanding into major airports, it is also trimming less popular routes. A new schedule effective in August will be released in a few weeks, Flaningan said, but he could not say if Sacramento would be affected.

"We're taking a look at our schedule and trying to emphasize our presence at new airports, where our customers really want us," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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