Good news for Florida tourism, in the wake of the recent oil rig crisis, arrives today as Southwest Airlines is celebrating its new service at Northwest Florida Beaches (Panama City) International Airport (ECP). In addition to the official launch on Sunday, May 23, the carrier kicked off the weekend by landing the first commercial aircraft at the first U.S. airport to be built in more than a decade.
The carrier now offers eight daily, nonstop, Boeing 737 departures, with two flights from to and from four cities:
In addition to the eight daily nonstop flights, Southwest Airlines will offer direct (with a stop but no change of planes) or connecting service to more than 58 destinations from Panama City Beach, including Dallas and Chicago. Southwest Airlines will operate from Gate 3 at the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.
Southwest Airlines now serves seven airports in Florida, and the airline is the largest intra-state carrier, hosting 46 percent of all intra-Florida airline traffic. Southwest began service to Florida in 1996, opening two cities on the same day: Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood and Tampa Bay. Orlando opened on April 7 of the same year. Jacksonville followed in 1997, West Palm Beach in 2001, and Ft. Myers/Naples in 2005.