Bob Montgomery, Southwest Airlines vice president of properties announced on Wednesday the new destinations from the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. While disclosing the much awaited news he told that there would be non stop flights to and from the new airport to Orlando, Baltimore, Houston, and Nashville. The announcement of the key destinations would eventually help tourists and regular travelers to get direct or connecting flights to other 58 Southwest gateway cities.
“We’ve tried to pick our finest,” Montgomery said. The new flights would serve about 2000 travelers per day. According to Christi Day, a spokeswoman of Southwest, the four destinations were chosen to draw visitors from those areas who were less frequent visitors to Panama City Beach. Further the new cities would open new markets to North Florida. According to the Airport Authority, the one goal of the new $318 million airport was to market Florida to more vacationers.
Airport board member Rick Koehnemann said that travelers would be able to fly direct, without changing the flights to Chicago through Nashville (BNA), New York through Baltimore, and Dallas through Houston (HOU) and Ft. Lauderdale through Orlando. It would take three hours to fly between Chicago and Panama City with a short stop in Nashville. “You get four direct flights and four semi-direct flights,”Mr.Rick Koehnemann said.
Sonny Mares, executive director of the Beaches of South Walton Tourist Development Council, also welcomed the new announcements from Southwest Airlines. According to her, Baltimore was a great location for conventions and meetings and as such would help to increase group meeting business.
According to Tom Neubauer, the President of Bay Defense Alliance, a Baltimore-Washington route would be beneficial to the defense contractors who travel frequently from Washington to Baltimore.
Meanwhile, the Bay Country Tourism Development Council (TDC) has begun its public relations campaign through press releases, photos, video and other material about Panama City Beach. The TDC’s findings indicate that there are more than 3 million households in the four cities chosen by Southwest as potential markets for bringing business to Panama City Beach.