By Molly O'Toole
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Southwest Airlines Co will ground routes from Philadelphia to four cities and doesn't anticipate them taking off again soon.
The affected nonstop routes from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh; Jacksonville, Florida; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Providence, Rhode Island are the first such adjustment for the nation's largest low-fare carrier this year, according to Southwest spokesperson Ashley Dillon.
"Keeping in mind that we need to be profitable on all the routes that we fly, with the cost of fuel rising we just have to make decisions on specific routes," Dillon told Reuters on Wednesday.
"There are a couple routes in Philadelphia where we discontinued the nonstop service ... and those routes we have stopped, we don't see those coming back for the foreseeable future."
Flights between Philadelphia and Manchester, Pittsburgh, and Providence will drop from four a day to none as of January, according to a flight schedule changes chart in an announcement this week.
Southwest will also scale back Philadelphia-Boston flights from eight to five by February.
Dillon said it is common for Southwest to adjust schedules to consumer demand, but the move in Philadelphia is unique to those specific markets where the competitive environment is affecting profitability.
Southwest will cut over 100 flights by January, but will add back 120 by February for a total of 3,200 systemwide flights -- though not the Philadelphia retired routes.
The Dallas-based Southwest recently acquired AirTran Airways and serves 72 cities in 37 states.
"You can still fly on a lot of these routes," Dillon added. "We didn't exit any city."
(Editing by Jerry Norton)