TAMPA — Wedding planners wanted it. So did fishermen and the yachting community. So, Tampa International Airport got it — its first direct flight to the Bahamas.
Silver Airways is now booking flights to Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, which will begin on Saturdays and Sundays starting Feb. 12. Those quick on the draw can get introductory fares of $139 to the Bahamas and $179 back to Tampa from now through Dec. 22. The introductory fares are good Feb. 12 through April 30, 2015.
Tampa International CEO Joe Lopano said island destinations have been a top priority for the airport, adding to existing nonstop flights to Grand Cayman Island and to Cuba.
“A lot of these international flights we’ve gotten in the last few years have been really big for the business community,” said airport spokeswoman Emily Nipps. “This is definitely for the leisure traveler.”
The two-hour flights will leave Tampa on Saturday and Sunday at 1:41 p.m. and arrive in Marsh Harbour at 3:26 p.m. Typically, travelers visit for a week, said Silver Airways spokeswoman Misty Pinson. “A lot of Floridians have second homes there or are just going to vacation.
“Florida is our home and we have more routes within Florida and between Florida and the Bahamas than any other airline,” Pinson said. “Tampa, of course, is a huge part of our home and we have not had nonstop service from Tampa to the Bahamas. Marsh Harbour was a destination with particular demand.”
Tampa International Airport now also offers direct flights to Great Britain, Zurich and Panama City, Panama and recently announced new flights to Frankfurt.
Adding the Bahamas to the list is a plus, Lopano said. “We’re thrilled to partner with Silver Airways and offer Marsh Harbour as a new nonstop route, creating easy connectivity between Tampa Bay and a destination known for great boating, fishing and honeymooning.”
Those traveling to the Bahamas on Silver Airways will fly in 38-passenger Saab 340B Plus turbo prop planes.
“Whether people are fishing or diving or just enjoying the beaches or the most crystal blue water you’ve ever seen, they’ll enjoy Marsh Harbour,” Pinson said. “We are really excited about this new flight and I know the airport is, too.”
Silver Airways flies out of Tampa more than 100 times a week, with destinations including Jacksonville, Pensacola, Key West, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
This newest service will add to the more than 52 percent international passenger growth the airport has experienced in the past four years, Nipps said.
This isn’t likely to be the last island destination Tampa International lands, Nipps said. “We have our sights set on certain other destinations, as well,” she said.