Southwest Airlines plans to begin flying in and out of Syracuse this fall, bringing its low-cost airfares to Central New York, according to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
The Dallas-based airline confirmed this morning it will begin daily flights Nov. 14 from Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport.
Southwest said it will initially offer up to three daily flights each way between Syracuse and Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), allowing travelers to reach more than 50 destinations on same-plane or connecting service. Fares start at $49 each way.
“Our latest destination in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York not only allows New Yorkers easier access to our growing network, but brings the offerings of Upstate New York to our existing customers,” said Southwest Executive Vice President Andrew Watterson.
Southwest’s decision ends a 20-year effort by Syracuse airport officials and Schumer to lure the airline to Central New York.
Schumer spoke with Southwest CEO Gary Kelly last week, encouraging him to add Syracuse to the airline’s network. Syracuse is the only large city in Upstate New York that’s not served by the airline.
Schumer said he told Kelly that Southwest was missing out on a potentially large and loyal market of business and leisure travelers in Central New York.
Southwest’s decision is likely to increase competition and help reduce airline fares in Syracuse. Central New York business leaders for decades have said that the lack of affordable air service was an impediment to attracting new companies to the region.
Southwest, the nation’s largest low-cost airline, serves a network of 101 destinations in the United States and 10 other countries.
In addition to the new service between Syracuse and Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Southwest said it plans to offer occasional nonstop flights between Syracuse and Orlando on select Saturdays during peak fall and winter holiday periods. The specific dates are not yet available.
Southwest and other airlines have seen traffic bounce back this year as more Americans receive Covid-19 vaccinations and resume leisure and business travel.
More than 7.1 million people traveled by air over the Memorial Day weekend, a peak since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Schumer, the Senate majority leader, helped Southwest secure more than $7 billion in federal aid through a series of federal coronavirus relief bills over the past year. The aid was part of a larger package of $64 billion in cash and loans Congress approved to keep airlines flying and employees on their payrolls during the pandemic.
Syracuse will be the first Northeastern city that Southwest adds to its network this year.
The airline last month added service to Hawaii. Southwest also added new routes this year to tourist destinations that include Sarasota/ Bradenton in Florida; Savannah/Hilton Head; and Myrtle Beach, S.C.