News Article - June 26, 2009

By Linda Loyd
Inquirer Staff Writer

  In a move that no doubt will mean higher fares for Boston-bound air travelers, Delta Air Lines Inc. is ending nonstop service between Philadelphia and that city July 31. Beginning Aug. 1, only US Airways Group Inc. will fly nonstop to Boston. With no competition among carriers on the route, passengers can expect to pay more for tickets.

   "People who are used to flying that route over and over again should expect higher prices, especially for the nonstop," said Rick Seaney, chief executive officer of the airfare comparison Web site "The No. 1 rule in pricing is no competition, no discount," he said. Delta currently has four daily round-trip, nonstop flights between Philadelphia and Boston. Because of the rocky economy, Delta said recently that it would further cut capacity - seats and flights - 10 percent. "It's a matter of us taking a look at flights that are no longer profitable and making reductions," said spokeswoman Susan Elliot. US Airways operates 16 nonstop daily flights to Boston.

   In addition, travelers who want to get to Boston can still fly to nearby cities, such as Providence, R.I., and Manchester, N.H., on Southwest Airlines, said James M. Tyrrell, Philadelphia deputy aviation director. "The Boston area is still pretty well-covered," he said. AirTran Airways used to fly to Boston Logan Airport from Philadelphia International Airport, but it discontinued the route in November 2007. "Typically, we end service in a city that is not performing. The planes aren't filled," said AirTran spokesman Christopher White.

   Southwest will launch service in mid-August between Boston, Baltimore, and Chicago. The low-fare carrier said yesterday that it had no immediate plans to add Philadelphia. That could change, though.

   "It's definitely a consideration," said Southwest spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger. "But it's nothing we have decided to do at this point. We will probably look at additional routes once we see how Boston is going to react to Southwest Airlines." AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said the airline "is constantly evaluating the markets we serve, and Philadelphia is certainly a market that is very important to us, so we will continue to monitor the competitive landscape there."

Source - Philadelphia Inquirer