Southwest Airlines begins new daily service Tuesday to Spokane from Sacramento – part of the airline’s biggest boost in flights at Sacramento International Airport since the recession a decade ago.
In April, the airline announced that there would be six new daily flights this year, including new routes to Long Beach and Spokane, and added flights on existing routes to Seattle and San Diego.
That brings Southwest’s total to 80 flights a day in Sacramento, making the capital city the 16th busiest airport in Southwest’s 100-city service base. Southwest is Sacramento’s largest carrier, providing more than half of the airport’s daily flights.
The upswing in flights is tied to the strong economy in Sacramento, prompting more travel, according to Andrew Watterson, a Southwest vice president.
Watterson said more people are willing to fly shorter distances lately, instead of driving. That reverses a trend that started after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said, when extra airport security measures caused air travel to become more of a hassle.
The first nonstop flight to Spokane was scheduled for 9:05 a.m. Tuesday from Terminal B. It’s the first time since 2011 that nonstop service to Spokane has been available.
Spokane has a 100-acre park downtown, is home of Gonzaga University and is the hub for outdoor recreation in the area.
The Sacramento airport is on a three-year upswing, topping 10 million passengers last year for the first time since 2007, before the recession.