Southwest Begins Charlotte Flights in April, Airfare Prices May Drop

Starting April 14, Southwest Airlines will begin flights to and from North Carolina’s Charlotte Douglas International Airport (airport code CLT), replacing flights that are currently offered by AirTran. Southwest acquired the smaller carrier two years ago and the airlines have been merging operations ever since.

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The “Southwest Effect” – Cheaper Flights

Will this bring a touch of the famous Southwest effect to Charlotte? Maybe for a few months, according to airfare analyst Rick Seaney. He described the effect as what typically happens when the low-cost carrier begins new service: prices drop, prompting more people to fly. Seaney said, “Southwest is typically pretty aggressive on new routes, for about three to six months,” which he expects to see in Charlotte as Southwest acquaints flyers there with the new product. Seaney added, “After that initial introductory period – and depending on the response by competing airlines – the airfare prices tend to creep back up to near the pre-launch price points.”

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New Southwest Cities for CLT

Southwest’s footprint at Charlotte will be small to start as US Airways remains the dominant carrier there with more than 90 percent of the airport’s flights. Meanwhile, Southwest will add daily non-stop flights to/from Charlotte and the following four cities:

  • Baltimore (BWI)
  • Chicago (Midway – MDW)
  • Houston (Hobby – HOU)
  • Orlando (MCO)

According to reports, Southwest will be dropping the Charlotte-Atlanta flight offered by AirTran.


Published: October 23, 2012