Alaska Airlines adds Fresno to San Diego flights

FRESNO, California

This is the first time FYI will offer a direct flight to /*San Diego*/ in more than three years. The last time was back in September of 2008 before "Express Jet" filed for bankruptcy. Since then airport officials have been working to bring the destination back. Wednesday, their hard work paid off.

/*Fresno Yosemite International Airport*/ officials look for ways to be competitive, and expand the number of direct flights to popular destinations all over the U.S.

Russ Widmar said, "We have really exciting news to announce this morning not just for the airport, but for the region."

Wednesday morning, Director of Aviation Russ Widmar announced Alaska Airlines will provide twice daily flights to and from San Diego.

"This is not just direct," said Widmar. "It's non-stop."

The new route will be operated for Alaska by Horizon Air, using 76-seat Q400 turboprop planes. The planes are one of the most environmentally-friendly aircrafts, burning 30-40 percent less fuel and generating 10 decibels less noise than comparable jets.

"It's terrific for us in Fresno to have more destinations we can reach directly," said Fresno City Manager, Mark Scott. "I think our community asks for that all the time and who wouldn't want to go to San Diego?"

City officials say before Express Jet filed for bankruptcy, this was one of the airport's more popular flights, and the return makes the city more livable and a better place to do business.

Passengers we talked with agreed, saying they'd rather fly one hour than spend five or six in the car.

Laura Speechli said, "I'd rather do that then take a train or drive by myself, so it sounds nice."

Esosa Imoisioi said, "I'm a frequent flyer, a lot of times I have a layover in a lot of places because there aren't a lot of flights that fly directly into Fresno from bigger capitol areas, so I think that would be a great idea and that a lot of people would take advantage of that."

To celebrate Alaska's new service - the carrier is offering $59.00 fares on flights to and from San Diego. Tickets must be purchased by January 25th and are good for travel within 6 weeks, starting June 4th.

Airport officials say they don't know what prices will jump to after that, but say FYI traditionally ranks 118th out of 150 airports when it comes to most expensive airfare.

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