Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV)
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Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) said Wednesday that it would be the launch carrier for a new privately developed airport in Florida.
The airport is being developed by The St. Joe Company (JOE), one of Florida's largest landowners.
St. Joe shares were recently up 7.3% at $28.88.
Southwest, the largest U.S. domestic carrier by traffic, will start flying to four cities from the Northwest Florida-Panama City International Airport when it opens in May 2010.
Southwest added four new cities this year and is continuing to expand service through efficiency gains despite slowing its expansion plans amid the industrywide slump in traffic.
Gary Kelly, Southwest's chairman and CEO, said at a press conference that the Florida Panhandle region attracts 16 million visitors a year, most of whom travel by car.
St. Joe will "effectively subsidize" the service for three years, he said, with both companies being able to walk away from the deal after two years.
-By Doug Cameron, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-750-4135; email@example.com