- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006

Southwest Airlines, which began service at Washington Dulles International Airport this week, won’t be adding any more airports to its roster in the near future.

Instead, any expansion in 2007 likely will come from adding service at one of the 63 airports the airline already serves, Southwest officials say.

“As of right now we’re just planning on enhancing what we have,” Southwest spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger said. “We’ll still continue to grow — it just could be in a different way.”

The airline doesn’t have an immediate need to expand to new markets because of growth potential at several of the airports it already serves, particularly Pittsburgh, Chicago Midway International Airport, Denver and Philadelphia, she said.

Southwest typically adds service to two airports annually. This year, in addition to Dulles, the airline began service to Denver in January. In 2005 the airline began flying to Fort Myers, Fla., and Pittsburgh.

Southwest didn’t expand markets in 2002 and 2003, after the airline and the industry coped with financial losses in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Southwest, based in Dallas, is one of the fastest-growing and most-profitable domestic carriers, adding service to 25 airports in the past 10 years.

The airline, which began in 1967 to serve three cities in Texas, now has more than 3,100 daily flights in 32 states and an active fleet of 475 aircraft.

The airline has no immediate plans to add to the 12 daily flights it operates at Dulles, Ms. Eichinger said.

“We’re just seeing how the customer reacts to the market,” she said. “Demand will tell us what to do.”

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