by Michael Lowrey
In 2011, Southwest Airlines began service from Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP) with seven flights a day to a total of five destinations: 2 x Baltimore, 2 x Chicago Midway, 1 x Nashville, 1 x Houston Hobby, 1 x Orlando. How’s that worked out for them? Not so well. All five of routes of those routes have proven to be duds. Orlando and Nashville service went early on, while flights to Baltimore, Chicago, and Houston are ending in April. Simply put, the 137-seat 737s that Southwest flies are too much plane for a smaller market like GSP.
Southwest though isn’t giving up on GSP yet; come April, the airline plans to start three-a-day flights from GSP to Atlanta. So essentially, a hub-and-spoke service model with the hope that enough people will fly from GSP to connect on Southwest in Atlanta to other destinations — using big, mainline aircraft, only a few times a day, which is something legacy carriers like Delta or American did circa 1985. How desperate and, yes, sad.
Charlotte impact: Well, Southwest eliminating Baltimore, Chicago, and Houston nonstops from GSP might mean that the airline’s flights to those destinations from CLT might attract a few more passengers, and thus well get the Queen City a few more Southwest flights. We can hope, right?