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      Charleston Airport sees boost from Southwest addition

      Columbia Metropolitan Airport / FILE
      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WACH, AP) -- Airport officials say the arrival of Southwest Airlines and lower fares have contributed to a sharp increase in travel through the Charleston International Airport.

      The Post and Courier of Charleston reports more than 250,000 passengers passed through the airport last month, a 32 percent increase over May of 2010.

      Columbia Metropolitan Airport has missed out on the airline's expansion into the Palmetto State. Southwest instead chose to serve Charleston and Greenville airports.

      When Southwest originally announced they were coming to South Carolina in May, Midlands tourism officials said they did all they could to lure the low cost carrier to Columbia.

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      President of the Midlands Authority for Conventions and Tourism Ric Luber said he offered Southwest a valuable incentives package.

      "Anything that we can do and put on the table is important for the decision maker," he says. "When we lose an airline, we lose business and we're talking about millions of dollars."

      Columbia Metropolitan Airport officials say they worked for more than 10 years trying to lure Southwest to the Midlands.

      Southwest began serving Charleston in March. The airline's arrival is credited with helping lower fares on other carriers and encouraging more passengers to fly through Charleston.

      Have you altered your travel habits since Southwest began flying to Greenville and Charleston? Let us know in the comment section below.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)