Southwest Airlines, the low-cost carrier many travelers have wanted to enter the Charlotte market, will start flying from Charlotte Douglas International Airport on April 14.
The airline is switching existing AirTran service to Southwest that day. Southwest acquired AirTran for $1.4 billion worth of cash and stock in 2010, and has been combining the carriers’ operations.
AirTran currently flies nonstop daily from Charlotte to Atlanta and Baltimore. Southwest will operate six nonstop daily flights from Charlotte to Baltimore, Chicago’s Midway Airport, Orlando and Houston.
Southwest is offering one-way prices as low as $69 for fares on some routes starting the week of April 15. Experts have cautioned that Southwest isn’t likely to make a huge impact on fares in Charlotte, however.
The airline will operate only a tiny fraction of US Airways’ 630-plus daily departures from Charlotte Douglas. The Tempe, Ariz.-based airline accounts for about 90 percent of flights in Charlotte. After merging with American Airlines, a deal expected to close later this year, the combined company will operate more than 93 percent of daily flights.
Federal data show that out of the nation’s top 100 airports, Charlotte was the 28th most-expensive city for domestic air travelers in the third quarter of 2012. Round-trip airfare from Charlotte averaged $401, tied with Richmond.
Portillo: 704-358-5041 On Twitter @ESPortillo
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