Southwest Airlines will begin a daily nonstop flight from Omaha’s Eppley Airfield to San Diego as the Omaha airport looks set to rack up another year of record passenger numbers.
Southwest also will begin a seasonal, once-weekly nonstop flight between Omaha and Nashville.
In the past five years, Southwest has more than doubled its number of nonstop destinations from Omaha, said Steve McCoy, the airport’s manager for airline affairs. The eight airlines that serve Eppley now fly to 36 nonstop destinations.
The added flights are a “testament to passenger demand in Omaha driven by the strong local economy,” he said. San Diego and Nashville are popular destinations for Omaha leisure and business travelers, he said.
The airport continues to add new nonstop destinations as its passenger counts trend upward: 2017 was Eppley’s busiest-ever year, with about 4.6 million total passengers, a 6 percent increase over 2016.
This year’s flight statistics look similarly rosy, perhaps en route to notching another record year. As of September, year-to-date figures for 2018 showed a nearly 10 percent increase in passengers from 2017.
Passenger counts are bumping up against levels that would trigger major renovations and, eventually, an expansion of the airport. Already, a new parking garage and rental car facility are under construction as part of a 20-year master plan that calls for expansion projects as the airport hits certain levels of traffic.
Southwest carries the biggest share of Omaha passengers. Last year, about 34 percent of passengers flew Southwest. About 20 percent flew Delta; American and United each carried about 18.5 percent.
The two additions to Southwest’s lineup will mean the airline will fly 12 nonstop destinations from Omaha. It flies daily nonstops to Chicago-Midway, Dallas-Love, Denver, Houston-Hobby, Las Vegas, Los Angeles-LAX, Phoenix, St. Louis and Washington-Reagan. It also flies seasonal nonstops to Orlando.
Southwest’s daily flight to San Diego will begin June 9. It will leave San Diego for Omaha at 9:05 a.m. and arrive at 2:10 p.m., in the respective cities’ local times. The flight will depart from Omaha to San Diego at 4 p.m. and arrive at 5:10 p.m.
Alaska Airlines also operates a daily nonstop flight to San Diego.
Southwest’s seasonal service to Nashville also begins June 9. It will operate on Sundays only. It will leave Nashville for Omaha at 1 p.m. and arrive at 2:50 p.m. The flight will depart from Omaha to Nashville at 7:20 p.m. and arrive at 9:05 p.m.
No other airline flies nonstop to Nashville from Omaha’s Eppley.
The flights are available for purchase immediately. Both routes will be flown on Boeing 737 aircraft that seat between 143 and 175 passengers.