Southwest Airlines is expanding into new California markets with the addition of flights into Fresno and Santa Barbara.
Today, the airline announced that Fresno and Santa Barbara would be added to its destinations starting in the spring of 2021. No routes or exact start dates were released.
"Our arrival in the Heart of California, both on the Central Coast and in the Central Valley, will round out nearly four decades of investment in our California customers and communities," Andrew Watterson, Chief Commercial Officer, said in a statement. "While other airlines seem to fall in and out of love with the state, we're focused on increasing the reach of our low fares and flexible policies in places where we expect them to make a difference.”
The additions of the two cities will bring Southwest to 13 California destinations. The airline added Palm Springs to its roster last month with six daily flights. In addition to the major hubs of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco, the airline serves Sacramento and Oakland in Northern California, and Long Beach, Orange County, Ontario, and Burbank in Southern California.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Southwest serves more nonstop passengers to, from, and within California destinations than any other carrier.
"For years, residents and businesses throughout Central California have expressed a desire for Southwest service and connectivity to their vast network of destinations," said Kevin Meikle, Director of Aviation for Fresno Yosemite International Airport. "Southwest will expand the Central Valley's air transportation gateway to Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon national parks, and we look forward to our new partnership with Southwest and their arrival in the spring.”
Fresno currently has flights from Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, United, and Volaris airlines.
Santa Barbara has flights from Alaska, American, and United airlines. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, service from Contour, Delta, and Frontier airlines has been put on hold.
"We salute Southwest's bold decision to enter one of the most vibrant and beautiful regions in California," said Mayor Cathy Murillo. "For our residents, our partnership with Southwest will energize the economic rebound to come in 2021.”
Despite the pandemic, Southwest has continued to grow its map. The airline has added or announced 10 new destinations this year.