Vision Airlines will offer Chattanooga area fliers not just nonstop access to Florida's Panhandle when flights begin April 3, but one-stop service to Tampa Bay, officials said Tuesday.
"Chattanooga and many midsize markets have been long been neglected by major carriers," said Bill Maloney, the discount airline's director of business development.
Also, the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to work with the Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Fla., chambers of commerce and CVBs to entice people to the Scenic City.
"We'd do reciprocal agreements," said Bob Doak, the Chattanooga Visitors Bureau chief executive, including e-mail blasts to interested people.
Mike Landguth, Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport president, said Vision offers an entryway to the Gulf of Mexico coast market.
Thursdays -- depart 8:20 p.m.
Sundays -- depart 12:25 p.m.
From Destin/Fort Walton Beach:
Thursdays -- depart 5:30 p.m.
Sundays -- depart 9:30 a.m.
Source: Vision Airlines
In addition, the airline does it with low fares and big jets, he said. The airline plans to fly 148-seat, Boeing 737 jets. That size airplane carries about the number that Allegiant Air jets do at the airport, Allegiant's being the largest planes in the market. Introductory fares were as low as $49 one way.
Maloney said the Chattanooga area has long supported the Panhandle, but travelers were forced into an eight-hour drive.
"We now provide an alternative," he said about the 70-minute flight.
Maloney said Vision will fly two days a week from Chattanooga -- Thursday and Sunday -- offering one round-trip each day.
On Sundays, Vision offers a continuing flight from Destin to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, he said.
Chattanooga tourism officials additionally will try to tap into the Gulf Coast market.
Dan Jacobson, Airport Authority chairman, said Vision is working with the Make-a-Wish Foundation so Aliyah Wade, a 7-year-old from Whitwell, Tenn., and her family can spend a week in Florida.
Landguth said the airport is providing Vision with $45,000 in marketing help to ramp up the Chattanooga service. The airport will provide baggage handling and other operations for the airline.
Vision, a Suwanee, Ga.-based carrier that began as a charter line, is launching commercial flights in more than 20 cities. The airline will fly between Chattanooga and Northwest Florida Regional Airport in Eglin, Fla.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.