TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The latest nonstop service in and out of Tucson International Airport will be daily flights to Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
The announcement from airport staff on Monday, Nov. 20, follows similar news less than a week earlier for service to Austin, Texas.
Flights to Austin will begin in January, with Charlotte to begin in February.
Charlotte, as a hub, can connect TIA to roughly 70 destinations. Opening up the east coast like that is appealing to businesses in southern Arizona, according to Tucson Metro Chamber President and CEO Michael Varney.
The chamber lost millions when Tucson passengers couldn't meet a guarantee to fill seats for American Airlines nonstop service to JFK International Airport. American suspended those flights.
Varney said a new hub connection like Charlotte won't end like the JFK service if southern Arizona passengers make flying local a priority.
"We just needed some people who were flying out of Sky Harbor to fly out of Tucson International or for people flying out of TIA to take the nonstop instead of a connecting flight," he said. "We were very, very close to keeping that flight. Unfortunately, we fell a little bit short, so just changing the way some people travel can make a big, big difference."
Tucson Airport Authority Public Information Manager Jessie Butler said that airlines don't commit to service without the data to know that demand is there. She said the authority works with a consultant to track passenger flow to find any potential under served areas.
Varney said passengers interested in keeping this sort of nonstop service and attracting more of it, should continue to book flights through TIA.
"While we seem to be operating in our own little sphere here in Tucson, believe me, what we're doing here is being done across the country in communities far and wide that are looking for that limited supply of airplanes that they can put on a route to their city," he said.
He could not share the details just yet, but Varney said the Tucson Metro Chamber is working on a program to benefit both local businesses and the local airport.