American adds flights while Spirit enters the CLT airport market

American Airlines announced Wednesday its intention to add flights to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, a decision made a week after Spirit Airlines' announcement of its entry into service at the airport.

American has announced that it will increase the number of average daily departures from Charlotte from 664 to 700 by the end of the year, including additional flights to the four destinations served by Spirit. and Baltimore / Washington.

The American also announced that he would offer more flights to Chicago, Los Angeles and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

John Kirby, vice president of planning for the Spirit Airlines network, told The Observer last week that the airline was not trying to compete with American. Crystal Byrd, spokesperson for American Airlines, said the airline's strategy was to expand into the Charlotte market.

Benefit for travelers

Competition could help reduce costs for Charlotte travelers, who pay on average higher fares than other airports. According to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average domestic fare of a flight from Charlotte Douglas in the second quarter of last year was $ 78 higher than the national average.

"You have to be price competitive," said Bob Mann, an airline analyst based in Port Washington, New York. "It's kind of the first rule."

Mann said the American was on the sidelines when Spirit grew up at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the carrier's biggest hub, and paid the price.

"I feel that when the Spirit comes, they have learned to compete with them regularly," he said.

Joe Brancatelli, editor of the New York-based JoeSentMe business travel website, said the level of competition depends on whether Spirit is recruiting new customers or removing existing American leaflets.

"They will come hard against the Spirit," he said. "There is going to be a nice little tariff war."

These announcements coincide with the $ 2.5-billion Airport Capital Improvement Project, which includes the addition of gates and a fourth parallel runway. Charlotte Douglas is always smaller than hubs like Atlanta and Chicago.

But if the airport wants to compete with these places, Brancatelli said that carriers like Spirit were essential.

"If Charlotte wants to be Atlanta, she needs Spirit," he said. "The American does not want a Spirit. The degree of malice of competition depends on the success of the market. "

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