They call the northwest corner of South Carolina ‘The Upstate’, and that is true in more ways than one. The region’s main airport, the Greenville/Spartanburg airport, a facility with about a million-and-a-half boardings a year, has some of the highest fares in the country. The city is typical of many smaller of US cities: too small for a lot of main-line service, but enough of a business centre that people want and need to travel to and from it. Spartanburg happens to be a centre for the US chemicals industry, and BMW, a truck-maker, and Michelin all have factories in the area; it’s a banking centre as well. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (yes, there is such a thing, and they work hard) said the other day that the GSP airport had the third-highest average fare prices for domestic service during the third quarter of 2007. The average fare was $465, and only Cincinnati, a Delta-dominated fortress hub, and Anchorage, Alaska, were higher. Well, some airlines do pay attention. US Airways says on the GSP airport website (and indeed in local advertising in The Upstate), “There’s no need to drive to another airport because we brought new low fares to Greenville-Spartanburg, SC. We've lowered fares to lots of your favorite destinations, so there’s no reason to travel to another city to get a great low fare" What airport might Upstaters drive to?
Well, they could drive across the state to downstate to an airport with lower fares, an airport like Charleston. It's In the heart of the Low Country on the other side of the state, way down in the opposite side of the map. That's where AirTran helped bring down fares. AirTran began its service between Charleston and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson in May, and by third quarter, Charleston fares were among the nation’s lowest, says BTS. We thank the eagle-eyed Megan Leigh Kuhn of our sister news organisation, Air Transport Intelligence, for catching this Carolina connection. And we thank the Bureau of Transportation Statistics for producing so much good data while labouring under a name that may suggest green eyeshades but means more.