FRESNO, California (KGPE) — After years of hype and anticipation, Southwest Airlines will be taking off from Fresno Yosemite International Airport starting 2021.

“This is truly an early Christmas for the City of Fresno,” said Mayor Lee Brand. “It’s tremendous news for the city of Fresno.”

The city said the largest driver of the local economy before the pandemic was travel. The airport brought in around $928 million to the Valley in 2019.

“I think it is great,” said Visalia resident and passenger Frank Vorrego. “We really need it, a discount carrier and I have been really wanting it and hoping we get it eventually.”

Director of Aviation Kevin Meikle said on average passengers that fly to the valley spend about $700 once they land.

“If you do the math with what you expect the presence of Southwest to be,” said Meikle. “So, 200,000 getting on a plane in a year, which is reasonable to assume. 200,000 times 700 is $140 million of additional impact to the region.

The move will also help complete the checklist of many prospective businesses and in turn bring jobs.

“We have been asked over at least the last 11 years since I have been here,” said CEO of the Fresno Economic Development Corporation Lee Ann Eager. “Is there Southwest? Is it going in and out?, as they look whether or not that fits their model. So now that we can check that box, I think it will open an entirely new set of opportunities for us.”

Southwest has not released the number of flights, the routes, or the prices. The company will decide on that information at the beginning of 2021.