Key West International Airport is adding two new routes to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cincinnati, Ohio and is on track to have a record year this year for passenger counts, despite a global pandemic.
The lines are the last two announced by Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air, which last month added direct service between Key West and Nashville, Tennessee.
All lines will start the first week of June. Pittsburgh flights will be on Thursdays and Sundays, and Cincinnati flights will be on Wednesdays and Saturdays, which is on the same day as Nashville, said Monroe County Airport Director Richard Strickland.
Allegiant Airs planes for Key West routes will be able to accommodate approximately 100 passengers, according to Strickland.
Allegiant Air is the second carrier in the past month to announce new service to and from Key West.
JetBlue agreed to bring two routes to the airport, Boston, Massachusetts and New York. The airline will fly Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday from JFK Airport and Boston Logan International Airport starting February 11th.
The JetBlue service is currently seasonal, extending through April, but Strickland hopes to eventually do the service year-round, he said. The pandemic and the availability of a vaccine can factor in the service being done all year round, said Strickland, who has been working to get the service for two years.
JetBlue plans to use an approximately 96-passenger plane for both lines, Strickland said.
The COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on airline service both locally and nationally in 2020, with passenger traffic down 60% nationwide and 27% in Key West, Strickland said.
However, Key West has made substantial improvements in passenger counting in recent months. In the first quarter of 2021, Key West International Airport should see a 16% increase, the largest increase in the state, while the rest of the country will still experience a 40% decline, Strickland said.
It’s been an exciting year and is well on its way to being an all-time record, Strickland said.
In October, Strickland unveiled plans and preliminary plans for a new competition and other improvements at Key West International Airport.
The Monroe County Commission has approved a series of requests for proposals and qualifications, as well as loan and grant applications for the project, which is scheduled to start in 2022 and last until 2024. The project is being funded through tariffs placed on tickets passenger plane using the airport, not local sales or property tax, Strickland said.
The new competition will accommodate a third security control line and more space for the baggage claim area. The departure area will range from 4,000 to 18,000 square feet, Stickland said.
The project includes glass alleys so people will no longer have to walk down the runway to reach the terminal.
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