Tampa International Airport's largest airline is bulking up for the spring tourist season.
Southwest Airlines will add nine daily round-trip flights between Tampa and eight cities in the Midwest and Northeast starting in March, bringing its daily departures to a record 83.
"This is really good news," said Louis Miller, the airport's executive director. "They say advanced bookings are looking good."
All the extra flights are on existing routes: two to Chicago's Midway Airport and one each to Columbus, Ohio; Hartford, Conn.; Indianapolis; Manchester, N.H.; Nashville; Philadelphia and Providence, R.I.
Nationwide, Southwest is adding 62 flights and eliminating 10 for a net gain of 52 flights from March 14 through May 7.
Southwest also is beefing up its Saturday schedule, including one additional Saturday round-trip flight between Tampa and Albany, N.Y.; Chicago Midway; Columbus; Kansas City; Louisville; Providence and St. Louis.
The low-fare carrier isn't expanding its jet fleet but "taking advantage of the seasonal decrease in flying time going from winter into spring'' to add flights, said Bill Owen, Southwest's lead schedule planner, on the company's blog.
Chicago picks up 21 daily flights, Baltimore 18 and Orlando 9. The March scheduled reflects "seasonal travel patterns where demand increases in the spring,'' the airline said.
Southwest flies 31 percent of passengers at Tampa International, putting it far ahead of No. 2 Delta Air Lines, with 12 percent.