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Southwest Airlines to fly out of Syracuse this fall: ‘This is a game changer’

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
The Southwest Airlines announcement at Hancock International Airport.

Southwest Airlines, one of the largest low-cost carriers, will begin flying out of Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport with nonstop service to Baltimore, a first for the airport, and Orlando starting in November. Local leaders hailed it as a victory, years in the making.  

CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson, who sits on the board of the Airport Authority, said Southwest has been on their radar for a while and has the ability to change Syracuse’s air service market. He said it will drive down prices to the places they fly. But also, the Baltimore/Washington International Airport has been at or near the top of the most-requested nonstop flights from the business community.

“It supports our defense industry and so many others,” Simpson said. “This is a game changer for central New York. This is a remarkable opportunity for us to continue the revitalization and the transformation of this airport into a critical component of our economic fabric.”

Central New York officials met with Southwest’s executive delegation in April. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said he and other elected leaders presented a united front and spoke passionately about the region’s future.

“In making this decision, Southwest is sending a strong signal that Syracuse, in and of itself, is a destination,” Walsh said. “We are increasingly a destination people are looking to come to, and we expect to continue that.”

On a call last week, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) urged the CEO of Southwest to add service to Syracuse. Central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) applauded a great team effort by local officials, but said Southwest didn’t come here because of pressure.

“They came here because this is going to be a viable market for them and that bodes well for this community,” Katko said. “When airlines start coming to your community, that’s a sign the economic trajectory is going in the right direction.”

The new service will also bring connections to 40 markets.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.