Southwest Sets Eye on Twin Cities

Airline lays out plans for Minneapolis service.

Twin Cities travelers are getting a look at what it will mean to have Southwest Airlines come to their town. CEO Rick Seaney said on Thursday that Southwest has filed the fares for its new Minneapolis service, which is set to begin March 8. Southwest's entry into Minneapolis has been closely watched because it is an assault on a so-called fortress hub of Northwest Airlines, which is now a part of Delta Air Lines Inc.

Southwest is flying only from Minneapolis to Chicago Midway; travelers can connect to a total of 56 cities from there.

Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz declined to comment. The company planned a formal announcement later Thursday.

"We are likely to be in for some serious fireworks on prices out of Minneapolis in the coming days for Spring travel," Seaney wrote on his blog. He said the new Southwest route from Minneapolis to Chicago is priced at $69 one-way with a 21-day advance purchase.

He wrote that the cheapest fare on that route for Northwest, American and United is $426 one-way. They offer round trips for $376, which works out to $188 each way.

"The legacy airlines will quickly have to restructure their airfares, by offering one-way fares instead of the two-night minimum stay roundtrip fares they currently file -- likely matching Southwest's new price points," Seaney wrote.

Northwest has a reputation for matching competitor prices and adding extra flights when its hubs are threatened. Last month Northwest executives said they would do both of things on the Chicago route once Southwest's service starts.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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