DALLAS, OCT. 21, 2009—Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) today announces its intent to begin jet service from Northwest Florida’s new international airport near Panama City, Florida in May 2010.
The planned service is made possible through a strategic alliance agreement developed between Southwest and The St. Joe Company (NYSE: JOE), one of Florida’s largest landowners and real estate developers. The new airport will introduce daily jet service to the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast, providing Southwest Customers easy access to its stunning white-sand beaches and vibrant communities.
For more information on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast, please visit www.thebeachfla.com.
Southwest has not released specific service details, saying only that it will add at least two daily nonstop flights from Northwest Florida to four destinations across its 68 airport network for a total of eight daily nonstop flights when it begins service next year. Northwest Florida will be the first international airport to open in the nation in more than a decade.
The new international airport is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in May 2010. Specific details on Southwest’s fares and schedule will be available in December 2009.
"I am certain our more than 90 million annual Customers will be elighted to learn they are now free to hit Florida’s white-sand beaches with Southwest Airlines’ great, low-fare service from across the nation's largest airline network, taking Northwest Florida visitors off the roadways and into the airways,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest's Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO. “I would like to applaud the ingenuity and hard work that both Southwest and St. Joe leadership poured into this unique agreement.” Kelly said.
“Southwest's arrival in Northwest Florida is expected to stimulate job growth, economic development, and give travelers more of the options they've been seeking,” said Britt Greene, President and CEO of St. Joe. “St. Joe is the largest landowner in Northwest Florida with hundreds of thousands of acres in the service area of the new airport site. Southwest will help position Northwest Florida as one of America’s leading beach destinations. At the same time, this region is also home to one of the world’s most important defense aerospace economic clusters anchored by U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Army aviation installations.”
A number of regional organizations are assisting in launching the service. Coastal Vision 3000, the Northwest Florida business group that created the regional destination brand, "The Beach,” is participating in the initiative. The Bay County Tourism Development Council and The South Walton Tourism Development Council have pledged marketing resources. The Panama City – Bay County International Airport and Industrial District has worked hard to enable new air service.
The Company will release additional details regarding its future Panama City service in the coming months. The airline’s entry into Florida’s panhandle will be made possible in part by the airline optimizing its current flight schedule and repositioning aircraft.