For the second time in as many days, the Quad-City International Airport delivered welcome news for Quad-City travelers seeking fun in the sun — this time, in Florida.
On Wednesday, AirTran Airways announced that it will provide nonstop service four times a week between the airport in Moline and Fort Myers, Fla. The airline, which did not specify frequency of service when it announced plans for the new route last month, said flights are set to begin March 8.
Bruce Carter, the airport’s aviation director, was pleased with the frequency of the new service and the schedule. He said the beginning of service will hit “right when all these college kids and spring breakers are heading down south. If I wanted to put dream flights — as far as departures and arrivals — in a computer, that’s exactly what I would have wanted.”
The Quad-City market is one of four where the low-fare carrier plans to add Fort Myers to the schedule. The others, also announced Wednesday, are Bloomington/Normal, Ill., Buffalo/Niagara, N.Y. and Rochester, N.Y.
According to Kevin Healy, AirTran currently offers flights from more cities to Fort Myers than any other airline. “Fort Myers is one of the most requested destinations in our route network,” he said.
Carter said Quad-City International was not expecting to learn the new schedule this quickly or to receive four flights a week. Airport officials initially thought AirTran might put three Fort Myers flights in the market.
Details of AirTran’s route schedule came one day after the airport’s newest low-cost carrier, Allegiant Air, announced plans to provide new nonstop service to the Mesa-Phoenix Gateway Airport in Arizona in addition to its new Las Vegas service.
With AirTran’s existing service to Orlando, Carter said travelers from Quad-City International soon will be able to fly to and from Florida every day of the week. The Fort Myers flights will be on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, while Orlando is offered Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
The Fort Myers service will replace AirTran’s nonstop service to Atlanta. The airline announced last month that its Moline-Atlanta service will end Nov. 30.
Carter said the latest decision to bring expanded Florida service “proves to me that AirTran is still committed to this market.”
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Although the Fort Myers flights do not begin until March, he said passengers can begin booking for spring break and beyond. Carter said Fort Myers provides travelers easy access to southwest Florida destinations such as Naples, Punta Gorda, Sanibel Island and Marco Island.
Carter said three new destinations will give the airport 11 nonstop destinations. “I believe that’s the most we’ve ever had in our history,” he said.
In addition to Fort Myers and Phoenix-Mesa, the hubs served from the Quad-City airport are Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Orlando.