Flannel shirts, grunge music and Starbucks coffee set the mood in the airport terminal on Feb. 11 for the announcement of new nonstop service between Tampa and Seattle on Alaska Airlines beginning June 20.
Surrounded by the team of community partners who only two months ago were celebrating new flights to Panama City on Copa Airlines, Vice President of Marketing Chris Minner explained the significance of the announcement.
“Last summer, the day after we announced our new flights to Panama, the Business Journal asked its readers if they could pick one destination anywhere in the world that we should pull together to try to get, and the overwhelming response was the West Coast,” said Minner. “The Tampa/Seattle route was one of the top three underserved markets in the U.S., and today we fill that gap in our service.”
Tampa Airport CEO Joe Lopano said that the airport’s success in landing its third new airline in three years lies in the strong partnership between tourism and business organizations working together to represent the region’s interests.
“For us to attract the type of high-tech companies that we want to attract to the area, we have to have the service to bring them here, said Lopano. “Our strategy has always been to leverage the strength of our community – and the strength of our community is our partners, the Convention and Visitors Bureaus, AAA, and the economic partners including the chambers of commerce and the Economic Development Corporation. It is through their hard work at earning the business that we stand here today.”
D.T. Minich, executive director of Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater said that his team is eager to show off the comprehensive marketing campaign that will introduce the Pacific Northwest to the beaches around Tampa Bay. The campaigns were developed specifically for the off-beat tech savvy residents of Seattle who do not often respond to traditional media marketing.
“We’re ready to convince them that ‘Sunshine is the New Caffeine’,” said Minich.
The reduced travel time of a nonstop flight will also make cruises to Alaska more attractive. Julio Soto of AAA Auto Club South said that over 7,000 AAA members from the Tampa Bay area booked cruises to Alaska last year, and he expects to see an increase as a result of the Seattle service.
Director of Air Service Development Justin Meyer said that currently an average of 330 passengers every day fly between Tampa and Seattle. The new route will provide access to numerous destinations through Alaska Airlines’ hub that connects cities throughout the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia and Alaska.