Southwest Airlines coming to Charlotte Douglas in April 2013

by: Holly Maynard Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Eyewitness News has learned Southwest Airlines is coming to Charlotte Douglas in April 2013.

The airline included the news when it released its latest earnings report. Channel 9 has followed this story since Southwest announced it would buy AirTran back in 2010.

It's news that travelers at Charlotte Douglas welcomed on Friday.

"Oh, I think that's great. Very excited about that. I know Southwest has a great reputation," said Elizabeth Thomas.

Southwest is known for its cheaper fares, but the airline may not have a great impact on ticket prices at Charlotte Douglas. A local analyst expects the airline to fly no more than 13 flights a day here, and he said prices may not be much cheaper.

"When AirTran and Jet Blue came, it significantly increased competition and the fares have already come down substantially," said Michael Lowrey, an analyst who has studied the airline industry for more than a decade.

Lowrey said since Southwest hasn't yet announced which routes it will fly from Charlotte, it's not clear which flyers will benefit more, and you can't assume it will fly the same routes as AirTran.

"The markets they're going to serve may almost be completely different," he said.

Lowrey does think Southwest will definitely fly to Baltimore and Chicago and probably Houston, Nashville and Denver, but we'll know more on Monday when the airline plans to release more details.

As for customers, Lowrey said you can book a flight on AirTran in Charlotte through April 13. Southwest officially starts flying in Charlotte April 14.