Spirit Adds Charleston To Route Map

The city will become the second destination in South Carolina to be served by the ULCC alongside Myrtle Beach.

Credit: Allen Brown / Alamy Stock Photo

Spirit Airlines is the latest carrier to add air service to Charleston in South Carolina with the launch of three new routes to the city.

The ULCC’s first flights to Charleston International (CHS) will begin on April 5, 2023, connecting the airport with three of the biggest metro areas on the US east coast. Nonstop flights to Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Newark (EWR) and Philadelphia (PHL) will be offered daily.

“The new partnership with Spirit is a major achievement for our community and further illustrates the strength and desirability of the Charleston region,” said Helen Hill, CEO of Explore Charleston and Chair of the Aviation Authority. “The Northeast and Florida have consistently been top areas of origin for visitors to the Lowcountry.”

Spirit will become Charleston’s fourth new airline partner in less than two years. The destination has been a focus city for Breeze Airways since the carrier launched commercial service in May 2021, while fellow startup Avelo began serving the airport in May 2022 from Tweed New Haven (HVN).

In addition, Sun Country Airlines operated flights from Minneapolis/St Paul (MSP) from April 2022 through November and the route is scheduled to return in April 2023.

The influx of new airlines, coupled with the robust schedules of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, has seen CHS fully recover pre-pandemic capacity levels. Data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that 274,800 departure seats are available in December 2022, compared with 231,947 during the same month three years ago.

On the new routes being launched by Spirit, the carrier will face direct competition on all three.

In the Fort Lauderdale market, JetBlue Airways offers daily CHS-FLL flights at the present time, while Silver Airways provides a 3X-weekly service. American also serves nearby Miami (MIA) double-daily from Charleston.

At Newark (EWR)—where Spirit was awarded 16 peak-hour slots in July—the airline will compete on the CHS-EWR sector with United, which flies the route up to 3X-daily using a mix of Airbus A319s, A320s and Boeing 737-800s.

Indirect competition from Charleston to the New York area comes in the form of Delta’s 3X-daily flights to New York John F Kennedy (JFK) and its 25X-weekly route to New York LaGuardia (LGA). JetBlue also serves CHS-JFK 2X-daily and CHS-LGA up to 3X-daily.

Between Charleston and Philadelphia, Spirit will compete directly with American, which serves the market up to 2X-daily using A319s and CRJ900s.