Southwest Airlines to Launch at South Carolina Airports

Southwest Airlines said Tuesday that it planned to launch service at the Charleston International and Greenville-Spartanburg International airports in South Carolina in 2011.

The low-fare carrier said service won't depend on pending legislation to provide air service subsidies, but it will receive from routine start-up help from the Charleston International Airport.

The deal comes after weeks of debate over proposed incentives to lure a discount airline, including a proposed 5 percent car rental fee, according to The Post and Courier.

The Charleston County Council had planned to hold a public hearing next week on the 5 percent fee on car rentals aimed at raising $1.5 million yearly for incentives designed for the same purpose.

The state's lawmakers also planned to tackle a bill in the Senate that would establish the S.C. Air Services Incentive and Development Fund, which allows the Aeronautics Commission to borrow up to $15 million from the Insurance Reserve Fund to lure low-cost carriers, according The Post and Courier.

Southwest will receive the Charleston County Aviation Authority's startup package, authority board chairman David Jennings told The Post and Courier. The deal includes a temporary waiver of landing fees, which run about $3,500 per year for a small commercial jet with one flight a day. It also allows for up to $10,000 in marketing assistance and up to $150,000 in startup costs, including computer equipment, kiosks and terminal improvements.

Southwest said it will release details regarding start dates, destinations and fares and number of departures at a later date.

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