Written by Gabriel Dillard
The moment long anticipated by the Central Valley’s frequent business travelers has finally arrived – Southwest Airlines announced early Wednesday morning its intention to serve Fresno Yosemite International Airport.
It’s part of an expansion in California that will bring the Dallas, Texas-based airline to 13 Golden State airports by summer 2021. Service from the nation’s largest domestic air carrier known for its low costs has been top of the wishlist for the region’s air travelers for years. And it comes as a victory lap to an otherwise challenging year for the airport marketed locally by its former name – Fresno Air Terminal, or FAT.
FAT’s addition in the second quarter, along with the Santa Barbara airport, also reaffirms a commitment to California by Southwest Airlines seen as lacking in other airlines, according to an executive quoted in a news release. That also resonates during a time when major tech firms including Oracle and Elon Musk’s companies shift their headquarters to Texas, one of many states seen as more business friendly.
“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,” Southwest Airlines Chief Commercial Officer & Executive Vice President Andrew Watterson said. “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.”
“For years residents and businesses throughout Central California have expressed a desire for Southwest service and connectivity to their vast network of destinations and renowned customer service,” 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.”