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The first passenger flights on Southwest Airlines from Denver International Airport have departed.
Flights to Las Vegas and Chicago's Midway Airport scheduled this morning have taken off. The carrier -- new to Denver -- will also offer a Denver to Phoenix service, for a total of 13 daily flights.
Yesterday, a Southwest plane rolled up to D-I-A, in a ceremony with an erupting water cannon and cheering employees.
Southwest will challenge Denver-based Frontier, which also serves Las Vegas, Chicago and Phoenix among its nearly 50 U-S destinations.
Dallas-based Southwest offered service at the now-closed Stapleton International Airport in Denver until 1986, when it left because of high costs. Southwest avoided D-I-A after it opened in 1995, again citing costs.
Southwest C-E-O Gary Kelly says the time was right for Southwest to return, with lower airport fees and other favorable market conditions.
From Monday, 1/2/05:
Southwest Airlines executives arrived at Denver International Airport Monday for a celebration marking the low-cost carrier's return to the Mile High City and Colorado.
A Southwest plane pulled up to the concourse at DIA shortly before 11 a.m. greeted by jets of water from two water cannon. Dozens of Southwest employees cheered from the tarmac as the plane rolled in.
Southwest's first passenger flights from DIA are scheduled for Tuesday. The airline will offer 13 daily nonstop flights to Chicago's Midway Airport, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
The Dallas-based carrier left Denver in 1986 because of high costs associated with landing fees, leases and other items. Those fees have come down, prompting the airline to start service at DIA, where it goes head-to-head against United Airlines and Frontier Airlines.
Together, Frontier and United handle 75 percent of passenger traffic at the Denver airport.
Initially, Southwest will have two gates at the Denver airport, where it expects to employ about 40 people.