Southwest to Lease More Gates in Philly

By next spring, Southwest expects to lease a dozen gates at the airport, meaning it could double the schedule of 53 flights a day it has now.


Southwest Airlines Co. plans to increase the number of gates it leases at Philadelphia International Airport next year, allowing the low-cost carrier to significantly boost its daily flight schedule.

By next spring, Southwest expects to lease a dozen gates at the airport, meaning it could double the schedule of 53 flights a day it has now, according to airline and airport officials.

Even with more than 100 flights a day, Dallas-based Southwest would remain behind US Airways in Philadelphia departures. Philadelphia is US Airways Group Inc.'s second-largest domestic hub and its primary international hub, with 475 daily flights to 110 destinations.

Southwest operates from six gates at the Philadelphia airport now. By early January, the airline plans to take over leases on two gates used by UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, said Steve Sisneros, Southwest's manager of properties. By spring, Southwest will get four gates now used by Delta Air Lines Inc.

Southwest's expansion could further pressure US Airways to cut prices. In 2004, when Southwest invaded US Airways' Philadelphia turf, average one-way fares here dropped 26 percent.

Southwest serves 61 cities nationwide, and it recently announced plans to start flying from Denver.

US Airways spokesman Philip Gee told The Philadelphia Inquirer for a story in Thursday editions that the airline wasn't fazed by Southwest's expansion plans. He said America West Airlines, which acquired US Airways out of bankruptcy court, has competed for years with Southwest in Las Vegas and Phoenix, where both airlines have hubs. US Airways and America West are merging their operations under the deal, which was completed in September.


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