MIAMI – Southwest Airlines is in business at Miami International Airport.
On Monday, the company celebrated its service out of MIA with a ceremony.
The new venture comes as many airlines, crippled by COVID-19, try to bounce back.
Passengers got off the first flight that arrived as the airline launched service from MIA.
For now, Southwest is offering flights to Baltimore, Chicago, Houston and Tampa out of Miami.
That’s 12 daily round trip flights, making the low-cost carrier one of the busiest at MIA.
“We realize we are starting service during one of the most unusual operating environments in our industry’s history,” said Southwest Senior Vice President of Operations Steve Goldberg.
The pandemic has had a crippling effect on the airline industry.
At Miami International, before the pandemic, would see about 110,000 passengers a day.
At its lowest during the pandemic, there were 3,500 traveling.
“Just this weekend we had record numbers of passengers, over 62,000 passengers using the airport,” said Miami International Airport CEO Lester Sola. “That tells us that people are feeling more comfortable with the norms that we have established.”
On Monday, Local 10′s cameras went inside an American Airlines 777-200 to see the sanitization process. An electro-static sprayer was used to clean seats and luggage compartments.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, American Airlines expects a 15% jump in number of passengers across the country. November 28th and 29th will be the busiest.
In Miami, that means 236 daily flights to 104 destinations.
Because different countries have different COVID-19 protocols, check-in will take longer, so officials advise travelers to show up the airport at least three hours prior to their flight.
“Transaction times have actually tripled in the amount of time it takes in to check in a customer today as opposed to pre-COVID times,” said American Airlines Managing Director Sylvia Rodriguez.