Southwest adding daily service to Dallas

Southwest will add daily service between Charleston and Dallas.

Southwest Airlines soon will add more than Saturday-only service between Charleston and Dallas Love Field.

The Texas-based carrier will begin offering daily nonstop flights between the two cities on Aug. 9, spokesman Brad Hawkins said Thursday.

The airline announced earlier this month it would begin nonstop flights to Dallas from Charleston International Airport on Saturdays only, starting April 11.

“This is an indication of the strength of the market,” Hawkins said of the additional service. “Charleston has been on our radar for a while for daily service from Dallas, and we are now in a position to serve that market on a nonstop daily basis. We are very excited about that.”

Charleston-area officials have been itching to land daily service between the two cities since Southwest entered the Lowcountry market in 2011.

“This is fantastic news,” said Dan Blumenstock, chairman of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Our growing reputation as a leisure destination and our burgeoning aerospace cluster are generating growing numbers of leisure and business travelers from the Dallas market.”

Texas is among the top 10 states for visitor inquiries about Charleston, and Dallas is in the top 20 cities, said Helen Hill, CVB executive director.

“We have every reason to expect that Southwest’s loyal customers will make this flight just as successful as their service to Charleston from Houston, Chicago, Nashville and Baltimore,” Hill said.

Southwest controls 16 of the 20 gates at Love Field, but it signed a sublease Jan. 28 to take over two of the gates that United Airlines now leases to Delta through July 6.

“At 150 seats per plane, that’s over 54,000 new seats coming to Charleston each year from Dallas,” said Paul Campbell, director of airports at the Charleston County Aviation Authority.

So far this year, Charleston International has added flights to Toronto through Canada-based Porter Airlines and will add nonstop service to Tampa and Orlando through Fort Lauderdale-based Silver Airways on March 19.

The state’s busiest airport, in the throes of a total makeover and expansion to accommodate increasing demand, grew by more than 200,000 passengers a year during the past five years to a record 3.1 million fliers last year.

“We better be building it, because they are coming,” Campbell said.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.