by Michael Lowrey
Service is once a week (Saturday only) on a 124-seat Airbus A319 and begins on Dec. 19. Would presume that it will also be seasonal, with likely a couple month break in the fall.
This is part of a broader American Airlines expansion in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Latin America.
Why this matters: Charlotte is US Airways’ primary hub the Caribbean. This involves daily flights to major beach markets (Cancun, Nassau, Montego Bay, Punta Cana, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, San Juan, Grand Cayman, Freeport, Aruba etc.) but also Saturday-only or Saturday-and Sunday service to smaller destinations like Belize, Cozumel, St. Croix, St. Kitts, Antigua, Liberia, and Barbados. US Airways’ service to the region has been pretty stagnant in recent years — the airline hasn’t successfully added a destination in the Caribbean from Charlotte in the past decade, so this is a significant vote of confidence, especially with American Airlines having a big hub in Miami, which is the best possible location for service to the region. The new American’s management essentially thinks Miami and Charlotte can play well together, with CLT providing complimentary service to the area.
Bonus thought: Charlotte already has a Saturday flight to Curacao on Insel Air, the national airline of the island. It’s unknown what impact American Airlines’ announcement will have on the Insel Air’s service. Insel Air is one of three foreign carriers that fly to Charlotte; the others are Air Canada and Lufthansa.