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Southwest adds 5 daily flights from BWI to S. Carolina

BWI’s biggest airline will get bigger in 2011, the airport announced Wednesday.

Southwest Airlines Co. will fly five daily flights from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to a pair of South Carolina destinations starting March 13.

The three flights to Charleston and two to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport are expected to be in Southwest’s lineup year-round, an airport spokesman said. The additional destinations will bring Southwest’s daily departures to 189 during the summer travel season, eclipsing the record of 182 set this year.

Jonathan Dean, the airport spokesman, said Southwest’s announcement was not related to its planned purchase of AirTran Airways, a low-cost competitor and the second-largest airline at BWI. The airlines announced the $1.4 billion deal Sept. 27.

Southwest accounts for 52 percent of the passengers who fly from BWI and AirTran, 16 percent. The dominant discount carriers were in large part responsible for a string of strong showings for the airport in the summer, including a monthly record of 2.17 million passengers set in July.

Both airlines have expanded their offerings at BWI in 2010. Southwest began flying to a new airport in Panama City Beach, Fla., in the spring, and AirTran added flights to Michigan, Florida, Alabama, Texas, the Bahamas and Jamaica.

Southwest’s first foray into South Carolina will also include daily flights to Chicago, Nashville, Tenn., Houston and Orlando, Fla.