Southwest cutting three daily BWI flights to LaGuardia

A week after heralding the arrival of two airlines to the fold, BWI Marshall Airport is dealing with the loss of Southwest Airlines' three daily nonstop flights to New York's LaGuardia Airport.

The airline announced that it will shift those flights to two LaGuardia-Nashville daily runs and add a sixth LaGuardia-Chicago Midway flight. The adjustment, the airline said, "really enhances LaGuardia's access to our midwestern, southern and western network."

The service between New York and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport will end Jan. 5. Southwest and AirTran, which have merged, are responsible for about 70 percent of BWI's commercial passenger traffic.

"We're always disappointed to lose service, but we know that Southwest is going to grow service out of BWI in the future," said Tony Storck, the airport's director of air service development.

Four years ago, Southwest spent $7.5 million to win the rights to bankrupt ATA Airlines' slots at LaGuardia that allowed the airline to offer seven daily departures from the New York airport. It later added an eighth departure — this one outside peak period. Southwest launched its BWI service in June 2009 with the theme "New Service, New Attitude, New York."

But the Dallas-based carrier ran into stiff competition for New York-bound customers with Amtrak, which offers frequent service and delivers passengers to midtown. Southwest's first departure at 9:25 a.m. didn't lend itself to getting business people to morning meetings in the city.

In its announcement, the airline said, it decided "to shuffle the deck" to make maximum use of the LaGuardia slots. BWI was dealt out.

Last week, low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines announced that it will start twice-daily nonstop service Sept. 6 from BWI to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and daily nonstop service to Dallas-Fort Worth. Also, Condor Airlines began twice weekly service to Frankfurt, Germany.