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Thu, Mar 12, 2009

Southwest Airlines Begins Service To Minneapolis/St. Paul

Inaugural Festivities Culminate With Airport Celebration and News Conference

Southwest Airlines took aim squarely at Northwest Airlines this past weekend, as the low-cost airline started service from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP).

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly joined Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) Chairman Jack Lanners, Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak, and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman at the Humphrey Terminal to launch the new service March 6.

"Southwest Airlines promises to bring low fares, great Customer Service, a strong commitment to the community, and of course, no Hidden Fees to the great folks of Minnesota," said Kelly. "Serving Minneapolis/St. Paul has been on our wishlist for quite some time, and it's a proud day for Southwest Airlines to finally begin flying to the Twin Cities."

Southwest offers eight daily nonstop flights to Chicago Midway (MDW) from Minneapolis, with additional direct or connecting service to 57 destinations. The airline reports loads have been heavy this first week, as customers take advantage of start-up fares as low as $49 (plus fees) one-way to MDW.

As ANN reported, Southwest announced in October 2008 its plans for a "modest" start-up at MSP. Following a tactic similar to the low-cost carrier's return to Denver three years ago -- encroaching on the domain of United Airlines and, to a lesser extent, Frontier -- Southwest saw the opportunity to take passengers away from Northwest at MSP, as that carrier is absorbed into Delta Air Lines.

The focus of Sunday's event wasn't on such cutthroat tactics, of course... but rather on the resulting benefits to customers.

"The arrival of Southwest Airlines into Minnesota is a welcome boost to the state's economy during a very trying time," said Governor Pawlenty. "Southwest Airlines promises to bring more flight options and competition to MSP, which is good news for our entire state and our residents."

FMI: www.southwest.com, www.mspairport.com

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