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United Airlines to add flights to seven new destinations at Southwest Florida International for winter season

The News-Press (Fort Myers) logo The News-Press (Fort Myers) 8/14/2020 Laura Layden, Fort Myers News-Press

United Airlines is making a bet on Florida.

The airline has announced it will add nonstop flights from cities in the Northeast and Midwest to four popular Florida destinations, including Fort Myers.

The new flights will begin this fall.

At Southwest Florida International and three other Florida airports, the airline will add nonstop service to seven new destinations.

Service to Boston (BOS), Cleveland (CLE) and New York-LaGuardia (LGA) will begin Nov. 6.

On Dec.17, flights will be added between Fort Myers and Columbus, Ohio (CMH), Indianapolis (IND), Milwaukee (MKE) and Pittsburgh (PIT).

The new service won't be long-lived, as it's slated to end Jan. 10.

"We will continue to monitor demand and adjust as necessary," said David Gonzalez, a corporate communications manager for the airline, in an email.

In a news release, United said the added flights in Florida reflect the company's "continuing strategy to aggressively and opportunistically manage the impact of COVID-19 by increasing service to destinations where customers most want to fly."

“The addition of these new flights represents United’s largest expansion of point-to-point, non-hub flying and reflects our data-driven approach to add capacity where customers are telling us they want to go,” said Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of domestic network planning, in a statement. “We look forward to offering customers in the Midwest and Northeast more options to fly nonstop to Florida this winter.”    

In case you missed it: Southwest Florida International Airport will reopen Concourse C

Plans for more service at Southwest Florida International — known for short at RSW — come as welcome news, with the region's tourism industry still struggling to make a comeback after taking a big hit from the coronavirus pandemic. The virus causes COVID-19, the sometimes fatal disease that continues to spread across Florida — and the rest of the country.

“We are extremely pleased United Airlines is adding flights from popular cities in the Midwest and Northeast to bring travelers to Southwest Florida to experience our beaches and relaxing atmosphere. RSW appreciates United’s commitment to customer feedback and is proud to be part of their large expansion plans for additional routes this winter season," said Ben Siegel, acting executive director for the Lee County Port Authority, which operates the local airport.

More: Coronavirus dampens international tourism summer season in SWFL

In case you missed it: Tourism picture in Southwest Florida brightens in June, but dark clouds loom with rise in coronavirus cases

The new service marks the first time in almost 20 years that United will offer flights from New York-LaGuardia to Florida markets, Gonzalez said. Travelers going to and from the LaGuardia airport will get to "enjoy the fully operational and brand new Terminal B, which opened in June 2020," he noted.

In an email, Jack Wert, Collier County's tourism director, said the plan to add flights at Southwest Florida International "shows the airline’s confidence that the demand will be there in November and December," a positive sign.

"Those are all strong winter feeder markets," he said. "For winter season."

The winter months are Southwest Florida's — and Florida's — peak tourist season, as northerners look to escape the snow and bask in the sun.

By the way: After hitting 'rock bottom' in April amid the coronavirus pandemic, SWFL's airports have seen an uptick in passenger demand

United will add up to 28 daily nonstop flights to Florida for the busy season. That includes new service offerings at airports in Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: United Airlines to add flights to seven new destinations at Southwest Florida International for winter season

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