As evidence of the strong demand for convenient air service from Santa Barbara, two of the Airport’s commercial airlines, United Airlines and American Airlines, have announced dramatic increases in available seats departing from Santa Barbara Airport this year. Overall, Santa Barbara expects to increase passenger capacity in 2017 by more than 10% - over an already banner year in 2016.
At the annual ‘State of the City’ event this morning, Mayor Helene Schneider dovetailed a series of announcements over the last week about these airlines’ significant new commitment to Santa Barbara. “We’ve always known that we can fill planes out of Santa Barbara Airport, the issue has been getting the seats from the airlines to fill,” said Mayor Schneider. “The City will continue to advocate for more nonstop service that our residents are clamoring to get.”
United Airlines is increasing its capacity departing from Santa Barbara to the Bay Area (SFO). The airline will maintain the current six daily departures to SFO, but serve most all flights with larger aircraft. United will fly its first early morning departure to San Francisco in a 150-seat Airbus 320 aircraft – the first such “mainline” aircraft to serve Santa Barbara by United since 2001.
Demand for flights to Denver has far outpaced capacity in recent years, and the airline is increasing capacity on that route as well with new aircraft on both of its daily flights. The morning Denver departure will be served by a 128-seat Airbus 319. “Since the wave of airline mergers and buy-outs began in 2005, most airlines have cut back service to smaller airports like Santa Barbara, even though the market is there,” said Airport Director, Hazel Johns. “We’re hopeful this is the start of a long-term growth trend.”
In an announcement earlier this year, American Airlines gave its nonstop service to Dallas/Ft. Worth a boost by upgrading that flight from a regional jet to a 128-seat Airbus 319 beginning on April 4. The Dallas/Ft. Worth service began last June and has been in consistently high demand by passengers.