TAMPA — With demand from travelers rising, Tampa International Airport announced Thursday that United Airlines will double its Tampa-to-San Francisco service from one to two flights a day starting next June.
"This new service reflects the strength of this flight, and the demand it has created for additional flights between Tampa and the San Francisco Bay area," TIA director of research and air service development Kenneth Strickland said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times. It also "gives Tampa passengers even more choice when planning trips to the (San Francisco) Bay area."
For example, flying United to San Francisco and back now means an overnight stay in the bay area. With the expanded service, business fliers can get to San Francisco for an afternoon meeting or dinner and return to Tampa on the new red-eye flight.
San Francisco had been one of TIA's top priorities for new markets for years before United launched its service in February 2017. Before then, nearly 400 passengers a day traveled between the two cities, but none could book a direct flight.
"They were all having to connect at least once to get there," Strickland said. "At the time, that was the highest between-market traffic of any cities in the U.S. without non-stop service."
Since service began, traffic on the route has increased 22 percent while fares have gone down 5 percent. Over the previous year, flights were 83 percent full on average.
"This increase in service is the natural evolution we expect from such a route," Strickland said. "We anticipated that the initial non-stop service would foster economic relations between our markets that would drive further capital flow and traffic between Tampa Bay and the San Francisco Bay area."
Strickland said United's additional flights also would help increase the availability of one-stop service between Tampa and "several large Asian markets, particularly those in China with complementary schedules."
Airport officials said the early-evening departure from Tampa will provide an easy connection to several overnight flights heading from San Francisco to Asia. Going the other way, passengers traveling from Asia to Tampa will land in San Francisco the first thing in the morning in time to make a convenient connecting flight to TIA.
Currently, United flights leave Tampa at 8:50 a.m. and arrive in San Francisco at 11:14 a.m., then leave San Francisco at 1:45 p.m. and arrive in Tampa at 9:59 p.m.
Starting June 6, 2019, United will:
• Leave Tampa at 8:50 a.m., and arrive at San Francisco at 11:14 a.m.
• Leave Tampa at 7:15 p.m., and arrive at San Francisco at 9:39 p.m.
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• Leave San Francisco at 10:05 a.m., and arrive at Tampa at 6:19 p.m.
• Leave San Francisco at 10:45 p.m., and arrive at Tampa at 6:59 a.m.
Contact Richard Danielson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times