BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Western New Yorkers will soon have a much easier way to reach a popular Caribbean destination.
Southwest Airlines will launch direct service from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport to San Juan, Puerto Rico November 13. The carrier will begin service from St. Louis to San Juan the same day.
Flights will depart every Saturday.
“These new routes to St. Louis and Buffalo demonstrate the great potential that Southwest sees on the island as a tourist and business destination,” Jose Piza Batiz, executive director of Puerto Rico’s Ports Authority, told the Caribbean Times.
The addition of the San Juan route provides a high-profile boost to the airport, which is still recovering from the pandemic. BNIA is back to having 60 percent of the travelers it welcomed before the pandemic, which is about 5,000 passengers a day, according to NFTA Executive Director Kim Minkel.
“About 30 percent of the people using this airport were Canadian, so we are anxious to have the border open again,” Minkel told 7 Eyewitness News earlier this month as the NFTA unveiled an $80 million terminal expansion. “For our Niagara Falls airport, about 88 percent were Canadian. Certainly, that airport is feeling the effects of the border being closed.”
Southwest, itself struggling with a worker shortage, is offering employees double pay to avoid flight cancellations during the busy July 4 holiday weekend.