The flight, which was greeted by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and Seattle- and Tampa-themed entertainment, marked the first time in the history of Tampa International Airport that nonstop flights have been available to the Pacific Northwest United States.
“This is a great day for the Tampa Bay region, which has long enjoyed nonstop routes to destinations all over the country and world and can now add the Pacific Northwest to that list,” said Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano. “We’re thrilled to welcome Alaska Airlines aboard, and we know this will be a very popular service for both leisure and business travelers.”
The Seattle/Tampa route is one of the top three unserved markets in the United States. More than 160 passengers a day fly from Tampa to Seattle. The addition of the nonstop service to Seattle means those passengers no longer have to connect through another airport.
“The addition of this route is a real victory for the Tampa International Airport team and all of our supporting partners,” said Chris Minner, Tampa International Airport’s Vice President of Marketing. “Easier connections between Seattle and Tampa mean better business opportunities, greater exposure and more tourism dollars on both coasts.”
Alaska Airlines will operate a Boeing 737-800 with 16 business class seats and 147 coach seats. Flights will leave daily from Tampa International Airport at 6:30 p.m. and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at 8:50 a.m.
Minner said the new route would not have been possible without the involvement of Visit Tampa Bay, Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. The partners were instrumental in “telling the story of Tampa Bay,” he said, as they participated in several visits to Seattle and meetings with Alaska Airlines to help bring the service to the area.
Speakers at the June 20 press conference included Alaska Airlines Regional Manager Karen Cannon, Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater Executive Director D.T. Minich, Visit Tampa Bay President & CEO Santiago Corrada, Tampa Hillsborough EDC CEO Rick Homans, St. Pete Chamber President Chris Steinocher, Director of Sales for AAA Auto Club South Julio Soto, and Hillsborough County Aviation Authority Board Chairman Robert Watkins.
“We were there to welcome to inaugural arriving flight and it was great seeing so many families coming to the Tampa Bay area,” said Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater’s Minich. “We knew it was just a matter of time before the Pacific Northwest discovered our award-winning beaches because sunshine is the new caffeine.”
Alaska Airlines, a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group, together with its partner regional airlines, serves nearly 100 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines has ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Network Carriers” in the J.D. Power and Associates North America Airline Satisfaction Study for six consecutive years from 2008 to 2013. For reservations, visit www.alaskaair.com.