SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Southwest Airlines has announced the destinations they will be flying to out of Santa Barbara Airport, including several daily flights to Las Vegas.
Southwest will begin service out of SBA on April 12, 2021. The initial schedule includes three daily departures to Las Vegas, one daily flight to Denver and one daily flight to Oakland.
“Obviously all strong markets in their own right, but they're also major connecting points within the Southwest network,” said airport spokeswoman Deanna Zachrisson, who says Santa Barbara passengers will now have access to 50 other Southwest destinations via the new connections.
"We know we've been an attractive market for Southwest, but it took the shake-up of the industry as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide the impetus to enter the market," said Airport Director Henry Thompson in a statement. "Whatever the reason, it's our region that stands to benefit."
Southwest's network and notoriety for low fares and no baggage fees make it a popular airline.
“They just have such a large, loyal customer base,” Zachrisson said. “And that's one of the reasons why we pursued them for so long."
The airport staff and other local organizations have courted the airline for at least five years.
Tourism group Visit Santa Barbara has been actively involved in those conversations. The organization is now committing $250,000 to support the new flights, including marketing campaigns to attract visitors in each of the new Southwest destination cities.
Once leisure travel is deemed safe once again, the new airlines could help galvanize a significant rebound for Santa Barbara's hospitality industry and broader economy overall.
“Obviously this is important for our very critical tourism industry, for meetings and conferences industry, for weddings,” said Kathy Janega-Dykes, president and CEO of Visit Santa Barbara. “The easier it is for people to get here, the more likely they are to consider a visit, and become, certainly, a repeat visitor.
“We also know that air passengers stay in the region longer than those that arrive by car or train. They also tend to spend more money in our community… And the pandemic has certainly illuminated how essential tourism is to our local community."
Southwest flies with Boeing 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft for all its destinations and will do so out of Santa Barbara as well.
The new flights are currently bookable on Southwest's website. Introductory fares start as low as $39 one way to Las Vegas.