Charleston International’s first nonstop, coast-to-coast airline service lands this fall, and Boeing Co. is a big reason for the addition.
Washington-based Alaska Airlines will start the transcontinental flights four days a week between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the Lowcountry on Nov. 16, just ahead of the busy holiday travel season.
The close relationship between Boeing and Alaska Airlines is among the main reasons the carrier is launching the service, said Gary Edwards, a consultant for the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Charleston County Aviation Authority.
“Boeing has made a compelling case that they can support the route to a certain level, and Alaska Airlines has made an assessment that the remainder of the market can support flights they are offering,” Edwards said.
He said there is a lot of back-and-forth travel for Boeing workers between the Seattle area and North Charleston. The aircraft manufacturer has plants in both locations.
Leisure travelers will be using the flights as well, Edwards said.
An airline official said the carrier is responding to customers’ requests.
“We’re pleased to be adding new nonstop service to three highly requested business and leisure destinations not currently served nonstop from Seattle,” said John Kirby, the airline’s vice president of capacity planning. “Nonstop flights equate to shorter travel times and more convenience for our customers.”
The service will be available on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Flights from Seattle are scheduled to arrive in Charleston at 4:50 p.m. The airline departs for Seattle an hour later, touching down in the Pacific Northwest shortly after 9 p.m. Pacific time.
Boeing’s 160-seat Next Generation 737 aircraft will be flown on the route.
In addition to the new Charleston service, Alaska Airlines is launching nonstop flights from its Seattle hub to Nashville, Tenn., and Raleigh/Durham, N.C.
“Charleston has been named the Top U.S. City by Conde Nast Traveler four years in a row, and the Boeing Co.’s investment has served as a catalyst for economic growth and increased business synergies between Charleston and Seattle,” Kirby said.
Alaska Airlines is the seventh-largest U.S. air carrier based on passenger volume.
Introductory one-way fares for the Charleston service start at $139 and are on sale through Monday at www.alaskaair.com. Travel must be completed by Dec. 19.
Alaska Airlines is based in Seattle, and its route system spans more than 92 cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The airline has code-sharing agreements with British Airways, LAN Airlines, American Airlines, Air France, Korean Air and Delta Air Lines.
The carrier’s arrival could open the door to explore connections with other West Coast destinations, said Paul Campbell, Charleston airports director. Alaska Airlines will arrive at about the same time most of a $189 million redevelopment project wraps up at the airport.
Alaska Airlines is the third new carrier to announce service in Charleston this year.
Fort Lauderdale-based Silver Airways started nonstop service to Tampa and Orlando in March, and Porter Airlines of Canada provides seasonal, once-a-week flights to Toronto. Porter’s last local flight this year is Saturday.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.