That would be Ft. Wayne and Evansville, with flights beginning on Oct. 2. This continues US Airways’ expansion from Charlotte into Midwest markets that American Airlines already serves from Chicago and (often) Dallas/Ft. Worth. Previously, the airline has announced plans to add flights to the three largest unserved markets from CLT in the region. This round takes a different track, adding instead the two nearest — with near being a relative term, as it’s 415 miles to Evansville and 460 miles to Ft. Wayne — unserved markets.
Ft. Wayne (FWA): In addition to a 50-seater a day from Charlotte, Ft. Wayne also is getting two flights a day to Philadelphia. Ft. Wayne was awarded a federal grant to help start flights to Philly, so the Charlotte flight comes as mild though welcome surprise. Ft. Wayne was the 10th largest unserved Midwest market, based upon 3Q2013 data with travelers spending an average of $5,426 a day flying between the two cities. (Other cities that are being added: Oklahoma City was tops at $17,426 a day, Grand Rapids $15,236, and Tulsa $11,235)
Evansville (EVV): Maybe the third time will be the charm for this route. US Airways had a flight to Evansville for a short time back in the 1990s when Pittsburgh was its main gateway to the Midwest. Then when the Pittsburgh hub was closed, Evensville service shifted to Charlotte but lasted for less than a year before US Airways dropped the city entirely. Now the route is coming back with three 50-seat regional jets a day, the same level it was at 10 years ago when it bombed. A city pair has to average 10 passengers a day to make it into the big DOT spreadsheet of routes. CLT-EVV makes that cutoff sometimes. When it does, this is about a $3,000 a day market. American Airlines does do well there, but whether the city, where only about 165,000 passengers flew from in 2012, can support an additional three flights a day — 54,750 seats a year — remains to be seen.
The place that people spend the most money flying to in Indiana from Charlotte that lacks nonstops isn’t Ft Wayne or Evansville though. It’s South Bend at $6,354 (seventh highest among unserved cities in the region). I wouldn’t hold my breath for South Bend flights though, as American Airlines currently doesn’t fly there (!).