First Sun Country. Now, Southwest Airlines is expanding in Southwest Florida.
The company announced Friday the addition of a Cincinnati flight to Southwest Florida International Airport, bringing its total available routes locally to 23.
It also has decided to resume flights in June to Buffalo and Louisville after originally ending those with the traditional Easter finish of snowbird stays, according to the carrier’s network planners, Jeremy Ramirez and Nate Mulder.
That’s all part of a larger national expansion that includes five more to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, where Southwest Airlines debuted in February. Plus, it boosted the number of journeys through Tampa, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
Industry leaders believe that with more COVID-19 vaccines, more Americans will be flying, and passenger traffic has already been on the upswing.
Southwest Airlines says bookings for leisure trips within the United States have been improving each week since mid-February.
Last year, 5.7 million travelers flew in and out of RSW, according to airport records. That was down from 9.6 million in 2019.
Service to Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport from Fort Myers and Sarasota is scheduled to begin June 12. Delta and Frontier already fly between the City of Palms and the Queen City.
On Tuesday, low-cost competitor Sun Country slotted four more routes to RSW as it plans to put greater focus on the booming Southwest Florida market. It also chose Punta Gorda Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport among its newest landing spots, assigning them trips to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The additional Fort Myers ones from Sun Country include Rochester, New York; Duluth, Minnesota; and two in Wisconsin, Green Bay and Milwaukee. Southwest currently flies to Rochester and Milwaukee.
All of those will begin during the 2021-22 winter tourism season. Sun Country already had four previous destinations out of Southwest Florida.
In the Know: The Collective, in the Naples Design District, officially opens in November. A few of the tenants moved in earlier this year after first phase completion.
Provided to Phil Fernandez, In the Know, Naples Daily News
Here are the rest of the new Southwest non-stops announced Friday for Sarasota, all due to launch in early June:
► Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
► Denver International Airport
► Kansas City International Airport
► St. Louis Lambert International Airport
Based at the Naples Daily News, Columnist Phil Fernandez (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes In the Know as part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, which supplemented this report. Check out Monday’s column in the Naples Daily News, naplesnews.com and news-press.com. Support Democracy and subscribe to a newspaper.