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Southwest to Begin Daily Flights Out of O.C. May 26 : Travel: Fares for 15 trips from John Wayne Airport to Oakland and San Jose will be $49 or $69 each way.


SANTA ANA — Strengthening its grip on the key California market, Southwest Airlines announced Monday that it will begin 15 round-trip flights a day in May between Orange County and the Bay Area cities of Oakland and San Jose. The unrestricted fare will be $69 each way.

Southwest's move into Orange County has been long-awaited because of the airline's reputation for low fares. Thousands of passengers have been driving to Ontario Airport or Los Angeles International to get cheaper fares.

With the addition of John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Southwest will fly from every major Southern California airport except Long Beach when it starts service May 26.

"We have been building in Southern California for five years," said Gary Kelly, chief financial officer for Dallas-based Southwest, which flies throughout the western United States and has some flights to the eastern part of the country.

Southwest is now the dominant carrier within the state. It carried more than 50% of all intrastate airline passengers in the third quarter of last year, the most recent figures available.

Southwest paved the way for the latest move when it bought Morris Air Service in December, which was already flying two flights a day between Salt Lake City and Orange County. The purchase of Morris Air allowed Southwest to pick up additional landing slots at an airport that restricts the number of flights to reduce noise.

Although the everyday fare on the flights will be $69--the same as on any Southwest flight within California--Kelly said discounts for advance purchase of $49 will be available. Southwest will offer its two-for-one promotional fares for leisure travelers.

Southwest's low fares could attract additional leisure travelers to Orange County, a major tourism center, even though about 70% of those who now use John Wayne Airport are business travelers.

"This airport has been heavily weighted with business passengers," Airport Director Jan Mittermeier said. Now, "leisure travelers who have been going to Ontario are going to come here."

Southwest's primary competition on its eight daily round-trip flights between Orange County and San Jose will be American Airlines, which previously has pulled out of routes rather than try to match Southwest's fares.

An American Airlines spokesman in Dallas said Monday: "We have not decided yet what we are going to do." American's unrestricted one-way fare from Orange County to San Jose is $119.

On Southwest's seven daily round-trip flights between Orange County and Oakland, it will primarily face off against Alaska Airlines. Making life more difficult for Alaska, Southwest plans connecting flights into Alaska's primary markets of Seattle and Portland, beginning June 6.

An Alaska spokesman said the airline has matched Southwest's prices in the past and expects to do so this time on the same routes. Alaska's unrestricted one-way fare between Orange County and Oakland is $99.

No matter what action the airlines take, observers say that Southwest's entrance into Orange County will be a huge benefit to John Wayne Airport.

"I think it's going to spur the market. I think we are going to see people . . . getting off trains and out of cars because of the value the low prices are going to generate," said Tom Jackson, president of World Travel in Santa Ana, a 15-office chain of travel agencies.

The fares and flights were announced in a brief news conference at the airport. Orange County Supervisor Thomas F. Riley, for whom the terminal building is named, said the Southwest debut has created enough of a ripple to become a hot topic at social gatherings.

"It's been rather a relief to have people talk about Southwest instead of politics," he cracked.

Southwest to Serve John Wayne

Starting May 26, Southwest Airlines will provide weekday round-trip flights to Oakland and San Jose from John Wayne Airport. One-way fares range from $49 to $69.

Fare Structure

* One-way; no restrictions; refundable: $69

* One-way; 14-day advance purchase; limited seating; refundable: $49

* Round trip required; one-night stay over (any night); seven-day advance purchase; refundable: $49


Departing O.C.

Flight Departs Arrives number John Wayne Oakland 786 8 a.m. 9:15 a.m. 754 10 11:15 928 11:50 1:05 p.m. 645 2:25 p.m. 3:40 780 4:20 5:35 926 6:25 7:40 798 9:35 10:50 Arriving O.C. Flight Departs Arrives number Oakland John Wayne 834 6:20 a.m. 7:40 a.m. 953 9:30 10:50 841 11:35 12:50 p.m. 659 1:30 p.m. 2:50 693 3:55 5:15 836 5:50 7:10 690 7:55 9:15 SAN JOSE Departing O.C. Flight Departs Arrives number John Wayne San Jose 735 6:50 a.m. 8:10 a.m. 657 8:35 9:55 940 11:10 12:30 p.m. 724 1:10 p.m. 2:30 742 3:10 4:30 761 5:40 7 795 7:35 8:55 976 8:55 10:15 Arriving O.C. Flight Departs Arrives number San Jose John Wayne 842 7 a.m. 8:15 a.m. 818 8:25 9:40 856 10:15 11:30 851 12:50 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 868 2:45 4 839 4:50 6:05 650 7:20 8:35 736 9:15 10:30

Source: Southwest Airlines

Researched by JANICE L. JONES / Los Angeles Times

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