Following the addition of 16 new non-stop flights to their service, Southwest Airlines added two more California travel destinations, Santa Barbara (SBA) and Fresno (FAT), to their 2021 flight map.
Though a specific date for implementation of these flight routes were not mentioned by Southwest, travelers can expect the flights to be accessible starting in the “second quarter” of 2021, according to the airline. After the flights become accessible to travelers, Southwest Airlines will be present in 13 of California’s 27 commercial airports.
Expansion of presence in California permeated 2020 for Southwest, so the new stops come as no surprise. In November, the airline began traveling to and from Palm Springs (PSP), alongside expanding its presence in Long Beach.
In a media release from Southwest, Chief Commercial Officer & Executive Vice President Andrew Watterson said the two new destinations will “round out nearly four decades of investment in our California Customers and communities.”
Despite expansion to travel destinations throughout the pandemic, Southwest has seen large losses. During the third quarter, the airline saw a net loss of $1.2 billion. With Santa Barbara and Fresno being two prominent locations for outdoor activities and leisure travel, the additions may help boost service for Southwest Airlines when travel limitations and restrictions are lifted.
Currently, leisure travelers are not permitted to travel to Santa Barbara per the region’s stay-at-home order. However, those in the county maintain access to most bluffs, hiking trails, parks, and public beaches so long as a safe physical distance of six feet is honored.
Much like Santa Barbara County, Fresno County remains under a region stay at home order, and many non-essential indoor businesses remain closed. Locations of standard leisure activities, such as amusement parks, concert venues, and festivals are closed until further notice. Outdoor recreation, however, can open with modifications and under the guideline that no food or beverages are sold for onsite consumption, according to California’s Covid-19 database.
Both Fresno and Santa Barbara counties are assessed as widespread risks on the state’s current tier assignments as of December 22.