Air South to begin discount flights at BWI


Chalk up another discount carrier at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Starting Nov. 15, Air South will offer daily service from BWI to Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Columbia, S.C.; and Atlanta. With one-way fares as low as $69, the new airline probably will prompt other carriers serving those cities to cut their ticket prices.

"It offers consumers another choice of airlines and certainly will drive down fares from BWI to those markets that Air South serves," said Jay Hierholzer, deputy administrator for marketing

at BWI.

The Columbia, S.C.-based airline began operating in late August with two 737-200 jets, each seating 122 people. It currently flies 22 flights a day between Columbia and Atlanta, Miami and St. Petersburg, Fla.

In addition to Baltimore, it will add Raleigh-Durham, Jacksonville, Fla.; and Tallahassee, Fla., to its schedule in mid-November, bringing its total daily departures to 66.

The new airline -- headed by former executives for a rental car company and a travel agent reservation system -- is the latest in a series of carriers offering discount fares that have attracted record numbers of passengers to BWI.

While no lease with the airline has been signed, it is likely to use a gate on Pier B or C, said Mr. Hierholzer.

Air South will offer four nonstop flights a day from BWI to Raleigh-Durham, with three continuing to Columbia and one to Atlanta. In addition to the new routes, the company is adding three 737-200s in November.

Don McGuire, a spokesman for Air South, said yesterday the three routes from BWI were selected partly because they currently lack sufficient jet service, which is far more popular with passengers than commuter planes.

For instance, USAir offers four flights a day, three of them smaller commuter planes, from BWI to Raleigh-Durham. American Airlines offers three commuter flights a day from BWI to its former hub, Raleigh-Durham.

A round trip, 14-day advance purchase ticket from BWI to Raleigh costs $233 on major carriers, although better deals are available on a more limited basis.

Air South says all its tickets will be unrestricted and fully refundable.

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