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Southwest begins Portland flights in April

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Southwest begins Portland flights in April

PORTLAND — Six months before its first plane will depart from Portland International Jetport, Southwest Airlines announced its flight schedule last week.

Starting April 14, 2013, Southwest will offer three non-stop flights to and from Baltimore-Washington International Airport each weekday. Two non-stop flights will fly to and from BWI each Saturday and Sunday.

Those are the same number of daily flights now flown to Baltimore by Southwest subsidiary AirTran Airways, which will end its Portland service April 13, 2013.

Baltimore will be the only destination Southwest serves from Portland. Once there, passengers will be able to connect to nearly 60 cities, the airline said, a 30 percent increase over the number now available to Portland-Baltimore passengers on AirTran.

Southwest plans to serve Portland with 143-seat Boeing 737 jets, while AirTran uses 117-seat Boeing 717s.

Southwest, the nation's largest domestic airline, is known for its discount fares and "bags fly free" policy. The nearest airport now served by Southwest is in Manchester, N.H.

Seven airlines including AirTran now fly through Portland. Last year, the jetport completed a $75 million renovation, including a new, 145,000-square-foot terminal expansion.