“Since mid-2021, Tulsa International Airport (TUL) has welcomed twelve new non-stop destinations from four carriers – American, Southwest, Allegiant and Breeze,” says Andrew Pierini, Tulsa International Airport’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer.
And our state’s capital is staying competitive as well. Stacey Hamm, Oklahoma City public information officer and marketing manager for the department of airports, reports similar additions for Will Rogers World Airport (WRWA).
Within the past two years, she says, “WRWA has added new non-stop flights. Southwest is flying to Nashville, Austin and San Antonio, and also to Tampa on a seasonal basis. American Airlines now flies to New York La Guardia and Austin.”
The waning of the COVID-19 pandemic has lent itself to better flight numbers.
“Travelers changed once COVID left,” says Hamm. “We started to see more people travel for leisure. Some of those markets, such as Austin, San Antonio, New York and Nashville, are pretty hot spots for leisure travelers. When American Airlines launched and announced La Guardia, they were only flying there once daily. Over the past 1 1/2 years, that route has performed exceptionally well with not only business but also leisure travelers. So they added a second daily flight there.”
Pierini adds: “Some of the most exciting growth markets have come from American Airlines, which has started non-stop service from TUL to Austin, Miami, NYC and Washington, D.C. In total, American has launched six new markets from Tulsa in the past four years. NYC, D.C. and Miami were our top three unserved markets before they both launched,” he says. “Both markets offer a solid mix of business and leisure traffic, and being able to be in either city in around three hours has been a game changer for the Tulsa market.
“Southwest has launched service to Austin, in addition to Chicago-Midway. Between the arts and music ties with Austin, to the up-and-coming tech scene in Tulsa, that market has been a huge success for Southwest. Chicago-Midway not only gives Tulsans another non-stop to the Windy City, but also opens a wide variety of connecting options throughout the Midwest and northeast USA.”
Pierini says government-related travelers are benefiting from non-stop service to D.C.
“The south Florida market has also taken off at an incredible pace,” Pierini continues. “The new non-stop from Tulsa to Miami has seen that same type of growth. American’s MIA hub also is a seamless connecting opportunity to the Caribbean and South America.”
Both Hamm and Pierini say growth, and upticks in traffic, have come after years of work. Officials representing both airports meet regularly with airline planners at conferences, analyzing numerous variables to make airline pitches.
Positive Tourism Effects
“The non-stop flights bring a lot of people to Oklahoma who may have never traveled here before,” says Hamm. “We are definitely on the map for people domestically and internationally to come to OKC. A lot of people fly into OKC to attend conferences. And equine brings a lot of tourism.”
Pierini says that in 2023, “[Tulsa International Airport] was named the overall winner, and small hub winner, out of North, Central and South America at this year’s Routes Americas Awards. This award is highly regarded in the aviation industry for recognizing marketing services that support new and existing air services, and excellence and innovation in route development.”
Photo credit: Photo courtesy Will Rogers World Airport