These flights will be EMPTY during the non peak travel season. Panama City is a REGIONAL beach destination. I don't see people from the Northeast going there...they go Miami, Ft.Lauderdale, Ft.Myers, etc. Panama City does not have a corporate base nor things like a convention industry from which to draw year-round traffic. Pensacola would have been a better choice for year-round traffic. I guess it just goes to show you what subsidies can do.
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I think having MSY as one of the nonstop destinations from Panama City does make some sense, for the simple reason that there is a large amount of people who drive from the MSY area to the PFN (and nearby Destin, Seaside, Santa Rosa, etc.) area for quick trips. With WN coming in with $39 fares each way (just making a guess based on the flight duration), I think they could capture a good chunk of the drive market. A one hour flight would sure beat a five hour+ drive. If they did PFN-HOU nonstop they'd miss out on feed from MSY which I think could end up being fairly large over time...plus, there would still be connections via MSY...DAL, LAS, PHX, DEN, MDW, soon STL, depending on the flight times. So there's a definite upside into having MSY as one of the cities flying nonstop to PFN. Whether it happens or not is another thing. I'll go with MSY, BNA, BWI, and either TPA or MCO.
Anyway, congrats to WN and to Panama City!
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