FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) — Southwest Airlines’ routes to and from Fresno Yosemite International Airport officially launched Sunday.
The first Southwest Airlines flight out of Fresno was a jet named “California One.” The 737-700 series plane is marked by a red star and grizzly bear, both referencing the state flag of California.
“We’re launching a service from Fresno to both Las Vegas and to Denver as well,” said Steven Swan, a representative from Southwest Airlines. “Las Vegas will be operating three flights a day. Denver will have one flight a day.”
Priding itself in not charging fees considered to be industry standard, Southwest Airlines has amassed an enthusiastic fan base.
“Travel with two free checked bags, no change fees,” Swan explained. “Those are usually the things that get people to take Southwest connection service.”
Some say the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Tiffany Young and Joel Ortiz will be onboard the inaugural flight to Las Vegas.
“This is a birthday trip and it was the perfect time to travel with Southwest,” said Young. “45 minutes versus six hours is a huge difference.”
Swan agrees, saying that Southwest has always had Fresno in mind as a destination.
“We just didn’t have the aircraft to do it,” he explained. “Because of the pandemic, we have additional aircraft available that allows us to move forward Fresno in our plan.”
It’s a plan that Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer calls a “game changer.”
“It makes us that much more competitive in that corporate world,” said Dyer. “And I’ve had that question posed to me many times over the years, ‘when are you going to get Southwest airlines in Fresno?’ Today!”