TAMPA — Southwest Airlines will offer daily nonstop service from Tampa International Airport to San Diego International Airport beginning Jan. 8, 2018.
San Diego has been a route that Tampa airport officials have been vying to add to the market for some time. Late last year airport officials listed San Diego as one of top domestic markets they planned to target for new service. The new San Diego flight comes just two months after Tampa airport officials announced the return of service to Salt Lake City, another coveted route, on Delta.
Flights between Tampa and San Diego are being offered for $99 one way when purchased today through June 26, according to a press release.
More than 170 people pass through the Tampa airport every day on their way to San Diego and have to connect at another airport to get there, said Tampa airport CEO Joe Lopano. Southwest Airlines is the Tampa airport's largest carrier, and accounts for 33 percent of travel, he added. Lopano said that the San Diego destination will be split between business travelers and tourism.
"This will really be a game changer," Lopano said at a press conference Thursday, "for those in the military, for the high tech business community and for travelers who just want to visit."
Tampa launched a new service on United Airlines to San Francisco in February, finally connecting Tampa Bay entrepreneurs to the tech capital of the world in Silicon Valley. The Tampa-to-San Francisco route has also been viewed as a top airport priority given that nearly 200 people pass through Tampa's terminals daily en route to the Golden Gate city, airport officials have said. Portland is next up on the list of top domestic routes airport officials hope to add to Tampa.
Southwest qualifies for waived fees and marketing support through the airport's incentive program, said Chris Minner, the airport's executive vice president of marketing. The total package is worth $717,000: $250,000 to help Southwest market the route and $467,000 in fees waived over a two-year period.
Lopano has added a slew of new flights during his tenure in Tampa.
In 2011, the first nonstop flights between Tampa and Cuba in a half-century started with a charter service. Tampa's first nonstop flight to continental Europe in 15 years came with the new service to Zurich, Switzerland, on Edelweiss Air in 2012. Copa Airlines' service to Panama City, which began in 2013, was Tampa Bay's first nonstop flight to a major Latin American hub. Nonstop service to Seattle on Alaska Airlines, which started in 2014, was one of the first routes to connect Tampa Bay to the West Coast. A flight to Frankfurt on Lufthansa in 2015 connected Tampa Bay to one of the largest international airports in the world. Southwest also offers service to Havana, Cuba, from Tampa which began late last year.
Contact Justine Griffin at [email protected] Follow @SunBizGriffin.