Daytona Beach, FL -
A Canadian airline now offers direct flights from its headquarters in Toronto to the World's Most Famous Beach.
Daytona Beach International Airport officials announced today (September 12th) that Sunwing Airlines will begin seasonal service at the end of January 2019, flying between the two cities twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays.
"Daytona Beach International Airport is thrilled to welcome Sunwing to our community," said DBIA Director Rick Karl. "This new service will provide improved access to our community's top international travel market and it will be our first scheduled international service in over 20 years."
Around 200,000 visitors from Canada come through DBIA every year, with Toronto being the top destination for those who fly with Delta or American, according to airport officials.
Sunwing - which also offers routes to Orlando, St.Petersburg and Fort Lauderdale
- will create special flight packages through its website, partnering up with local hotels to offer deals on rooms.
DBIA Business Development Director Jay Cassens says Sunwing will give the airport more access to the Canadian market and give locals a direct flight option to Canada.
"This initiative was realized through team work and collaboration between multiple entities in the community," Cassens noted. "From tourism to economic development, it’s a home run for our region and we look forward to growing our partnership for years to come."
The teamwork Cassens is referring to includes various kinds of economic incentives, including separate $125,000 marketing commitments from DBIA and the Halifax Area Advertising Authority as well as financial assistance from Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing arm.
Karl said during the press conference that a big part of luring Sunwing to the area was the recent increase in economic development, citing in particular Tanger Outlets, One Daytona and Latitude Margaritaville.
Sunwing joins Delta, JetBlue and American in offering flights at DBIA, but as of now, Sunwing has only committed to offering flights for a four-month period beginning from the end of January 2019.
Whether or not that continues afterward will depend on a variety of factors, per Cassens, including how full their planes are during those flights. He's hoping to hit at least 90% capacity on average.
"They're bringing that aircraft, no matter what happens," Cassens stated. "It's not a charter where they can cancel it. They need vacation packages. They need the support of this community and the tourism community to make this a success long-term."
DBIA hopes to eventually secure a year-round commitment from Sunwing at some point, per Cassens.
The airport is waving all facility and landing fees for the first two years that Sunwing operates at DBIA, but Cassens expects those costs and the marketing costs Volusia County will be on the hook for to be made up by the economic impact provided by the extra tourists.
"We estimate [the tourism impact] to be well over $7 million for six months' worth of flights," Cassens stated. "The return on investment is tremendous."
Passengers will need a passport to enter Canada, but a visa will not be needed.