Southwest Announces Two New South Carolina Destinations
Tags: Charleston International Airport (CHS), Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP), new routes, Southwest Airlines
With less than two weeks before Southwest Airlines begins service to Panama City, FL, the low cost airline announced Tuesday their intent to begin serving two cities in South Carolina: Charleston and Greenville-Spartanburg. The service is expected to begin in 2011. In the meantime, employees of the company will spend the next four or five months analyzing and determining the best destinations to connect CHS and GSP to its present network.
Since last December, when AirTran pulled out of Charleston, airline customers have been without a low-cost carrier. Charleston officials were in the midst of creating an incentive package to lure low cost carriers to their airport when Southwest notified them of their interest in beginning service to each of these cities. Because of Southwest’s financial strength in the airline industry, it declined these additional incentives, which would have placed an unwanted burden upon the state’s citizens. Southwest would however receive the Charleston County Aviation Authority’s standard startup package, which includes a initial waiver of landing fees, as well as a financial boost for startup costs.
The response to Southwest Airlines’ announcement from residents of these South Carolina neighborhoods, via social networking sites, consisted of an overwhelming sigh or relief and sentiments of anticipation and satisfaction. Found on Twitter, before the press conference even began, Lee Anderson mentioned, “Charleston Intl Airport Press Conf @ 1400 EDT. #NewService? //Crossing fingers for @SouthwestAir!”
Southwest Senior Vice President of Marketing and Revenue Management, Dave Ridley stated, “We look forward to serving the Palmetto State with Southwest Airlines’ unique brand of genuine hospitality, great value, a robust and reliable flight network, and our terrific Employees who deliver excellent Customer Service.”
It will indeed be interesting to see what destinations will be offered for each city. Charleston, SC is seen by Southwest Airlines as more of a destination for drawing tourists, while Southwest Airlines will be a great business travel resource for Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson. Both, in fact, could easily satisfy the needs of business and pleasure travelers. Some examples of groups that would benefit from Southwest presence in the “Low Country” include:
- Boeing: recently announced building a manufacturing facility in North Charleston. Obviously an easy connection to SEA would make sense.
- Air Force, National Guard, Coast Guard Bases, etc: Every once in a while, Southwest flies military charters to places not on its standard route map. The US Military in Charleston would certainly benefit from Southwest’s presence, also enabling families of military men and women the freedom to fly low cost to visit their loved ones.
- College Students: Several colleges are available at both CHS and GSP. Service to these cities would certainly create a win-win opportunity for both students and the airline.
For aviation enthusiasts from CHS and GSP anticipating that low cost Southwest Airlines flight to New York City, be sure to visit Southwest Airlines’ Porch at Bryant Park for a unique, airline themed experience. While you are at LGA, hop over to the beautiful rotunda at the Marine Air Terminal and revel in the decades of air travel history it offers! For more aviation history, you can visit the Cradle of Aviation Museum a few miles east of LaGuardia at the Nassau Community College.
LaGuardia would make a nice destination for NYC bound travelers whether or not they are seeking an aviation fix once off the plane. If Southwest doesn’t have a slot to accommodate a new flight to LGA, an easy plane change at BWI (or MDW for the more adventurous) from CHS or GSP may be in order.