Business · Central Valley · Travel

Will 2017 finally be the year Fresno lands Southwest Airlines?

We loved Fresno Bee arts writer Joshua Tehee’s recent predictions for Fresno in 2017 – highlighted by optimism for the local tech sector — but we couldn’t help but notice that Southwest Airlines didn’t make his crystal ball.

Fresno travelers have been waiting for years – seriously, decades – for the arrival of a low-cost airline such as Southwest or JetBlue to our beautiful airport, which was remodeled/expanded in 2010 in hopes of drawing more traffic. Alas, all we have to show for the $10 million project is a beautiful terminal that’s often filled with activity but could be so much more.

Perhaps our new mayor can make some headway, but we’re not getting our hopes up. We’ve predicted Southwest’s arrival for too many years, only to see the airline show LUV (its stock symbol) to some other city.

On Wednesday, the LUV was directed toward the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, which announced that Southwest will have direct flights to Baltimore and Chicago.

Good for them. But really, what does Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky have that Fresno doesn’t? Fresno is the fifth-largest city in California, after all. It’s also the largest city in the continental U.S. not served by Southwest Airlines (thanks, Wikipedia).

We know past mayors have worked with FAT to attract Southwest in the past, and we’re hoping Lee Brand will keep at it. Southwest’s arrival in Fresno would lower airfares across the board at FAT and make a huge impact on our economy by drawing more businesses, conventions, sporting events and much more.

What’s more, it’s a move that’s long overdue. Using data from the Bureau of Transportation, WanderBat, a travel research site by Graphiq, found the top cities where average flight prices are decreasing. They ranked 73 cities — 73! — and Fresno wasn’t anywhere to be found. We didn’t have time to dig deep into the data, but it’s a safe bet that Southwest flies to most of the 73 cities on the list.

We never thought we’d see the day where Southwest lands in Cuba before Fresno, but it’s happening now. Enough already, Southwest. It’s our turn. Our new mayor just took office today. Give him a call and let’s make this happen.






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