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Southwest Airlines Arrives In Pensacola

Bob Barrett

Pensacola International Airport was the scene of a festive ribbon cutting ceremony Monday morning as Southwest Airlines made its first flights into the city.  

Bob Montgomery, Vice President of Airport Affairs for Southwest Airlines met with the press then hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for members of the community at the airport. Southwest will be taking the place of Air Tran airways, flying two nonstop flights a day into Nashville and  one a day into Houston.  They offer one stop flights to 69 different locations, 22 more than were offered by Air Tran.  Montgomery says there are no immediate plans for additional nonstop flights in the near future.

Monday morning's ceremony at the airport drew a few hundred members of the press and the community to witness some of Southwest's first flights coming into Pensacola.  Mayor Ashton Hayward spoke to the crowd, calling it a " big win" for business and tourism in the region. Heyward also spoke about the so-called Southwest Effect...where prices for most air fares drop whenever Southwest enters a market. 

There was a party atmosphere at the airport as people spoke to the crowd awaiting the first flight of the morning. 

Credit Bob Barrett / WUWF News
Judy Burns, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald Charities of NW Florida, Bob Montgomery of Southwest Airlines and Summer Jimmerson, Director of Development for Ronald Mc Donald House of NW Florida

Southwest's Bob Montgomery also made a special presentation to a local nonprofit. A donation of ninety thousand dollars to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida.

The Pensacola City Council were invited up for an official ribbon cutting and then a band starting playing as the first Southwest Airline passengers made their way through the jet way and into a pretty festive at Pensacola International Airport

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.