MIAMI – US carrier Southwest Airlines (WN) is looking to start services to Fresno (FAT) and Santa Barbara (SBA), in California, a company press release states on December 16.

“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,” WN Chief Commercial Officer & Executive Vice President Andrew Watterson said in the release.

He also added that while other airlines seemed “to fall in and out of love with the state,” WN was “focused on increasing the reach of our low fares and flexible policies in places where we expect them to make a difference.”

Southwest Airlines unveiled a few years ago a Shark Week themed Boeing 737. Photo: Stephen M. Keller

Routes Part of a California Expansion

The new routes are part of an expansion plan in the state, which started with the Palm Springs (PSP) services that started on November 19, giving fliers an option of 13 California airports by Summer 2021. Local authorities from both cities lauded WN’s decision.

Director of Aviation for FAT Kevin Meikle stated that “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,” adding that 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.”

Mayor Cathy Murillo of SBA touted the benefits of the new services. “We salute Southwest’s bold decision to enter one of the most vibrant and beautiful regions in California, bringing visitors to our sweeping coastline to experience our mild Mediterranean climate and distinctive Spanish-influenced architecture,” Murillo said, adding that the city’s partnership with Southwest “will energize the economic rebound to come in 2021.”

Image: Southwest Airlines

Featured image: Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800. Photo: Eddie Maloney.