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GSP loses direct Southwest flights, Atlanta is only destination

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

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Southwest Airlines is trimming its scheduled flights from GSP to only three daily to Atlanta.
 
 

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Southwest Airlines is trimming its scheduled flights from GSP to only three daily to Atlanta.

 

 

GSP will lose its remaining direct Southwest Airlines flights to Baltimore, Chicago and Houston when the airline consolidates its service from Greer to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport.

The Greenville-Spartanburg Airport District announced that Southwest is changing its service model relating to small airports including GSP effective April 12. According to Southwest, all GSP flights will go through Atlanta with connections to about 95 average daily departures to other cities throughout the Southwest network.

Southwest will offer three daily flights from GSP to Atlanta, departing at 6:50 and 11:20 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

“The GSP Airport District is excited to embrace the new Southwest model and believe that this change will benefit our passengers,” GSP stated in a carefully worded news release.

Southwest's announcement caught the entire GSP airline staff and commissioners by surprise.

What typically was a seasonal meeting with Southwest on Monday turned into the airlines discussing its new service model with GSP Executive Director/CEO David Edwards. Commission board members Minor Shaw, Bill Barnet and Valerie Miller  were at GSP when the lone service to Atlanta was mentioned with the elimination of other direct flights.

"This is not just happening here, although it effects Greer, but other airports, too," Edwards said. Richmond (Va.), Akron-Canton and Dayton (Ohio), Wichita (Kan.) and Flint and Grand Rapids (Mich.) were among other regional airports facing the new Southwest service model changes.

Edwards commented at a commission meeting earlier this year that Southwest was entering the Charlotte market and told commissioners it would be wait and see if that would effect GSP.

Southwest acquired AirTran Airways, whose hub was in Atlanta, in May 2011.  Once the purchase took hold Southwest began offering flights from Atlanta.

“This could result in lower fares for GSP passengers flying Southwest,” Leland Burch, an airport commissioner, told GreerToday.com. “Delta offers six daily flights to Atlanta but uses smaller, 70-80 seat planes, where Southwest uses the bigger Boeing 737 planes that seat 150.

“That could mean Southwest may get more passenger service to Atlanta in fewer flights and may force Delta to lower rates. That will be good for us,” Burch said. “It also means passengers have more options with Southwest making connections from Atlanta. We will see how it works out.”

The $120 million GSP terminal improvement project continues and will not be effected by Southwest’s decision,” Burch said. “We’re getting all operations and baggage on the other side of screening,” Burch said. “The Grand Hall in the airport lobby will feature bigger restaurants and more shops.”

Southwest came to GSP with much fanfare in March 2011 announcing seven daily flights to five cities – two to Baltimore/Washington International and Chicago Midway, and to Houston, Nashville and Orlando.

"We want to continue to support Southwest, keep our air fares more competitive and continue the success we have had preventing the leakage we have had in the past at GSP."

 

 

 

 

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