Southwest Airlines brings excitement for Cincinnati-area fliers, businesses

CINCINNATI – Business people and leisure fliers alike – not to mention the folks who run some of Cincinnati's biggest tourist attractions  - are excited about the impending arrival of Southwest Airlines.

Take Chris Powell. He was ready to drive to Chicago Thursday to see clients of his company, Talmetrix.

But once the popular low-cost carrier starts service to Chicago Midway and Baltimore/Washington on June 4, Powell expects to be flying.

"I’ll be able to see more of my customers and create more business opportunities and not have to drive all the time," Powell said.  "So, in the end it’s going to lower my cost to travel.  Being a small business owner here, that’s a big, big thing for us."

That goes for the Cincinnati Music Festival, too.

More than half the people who come to the annual summer event are from Chicago, according to promoter Joe Santangelo. The new Southwest flights could mean more patrons not only from the Windy City, but Baltimore,  he said.

"We have about four buses that come out of Baltimore and if Southwest is flying out of Baltimore/D.C., I may do some advertising up there as well," he said.

The folks who book corporate travel at the Cincinnati Auto Club are gearing up for an increase in calls as firms study Southwest’s fare and flight options at southwest.com.

"Everybody’s looking for that convenience versus cost, right? So, any time we can add service in the city, that’s a good thing for all involved," said Stacie Schmahl, AAA corporate travel vice-president.

What has the Reds’ Chief Operating Officer Phil Castellini most excited is the possibility that Southwest could add a flight to Phoenix in time take carry fans to Spring Training in 2018.

The excitement is building for Rosie Reds president Dale Silver, too. The Reds fan group usually travels to out-of-town games by bus, but that might change.

"Since the Reds' travel schedule doesn’t have a close city this year, we were thinking why can’t we travel on an airplane to one of the cities that are further away," Silver said.

The excitement, which started with Wednesday's news conference at the airport, is expected to build as Southwest gears up for its CVG flights.

"This is just a huge new option for people, and I think for businesses in town  it just reinforces what a lot of us know," said Brendan Cull of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. "This region’s on fire, we’re growing and this is a terrific day."

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