National Airlines to offer Windsor-Orlando flights as of Dec. 17

National Airlines will begin offering twice-weekly flights to Orlando, Florida, out of Windsor this year, hoping to draw a mix of sun-seekers and snowbirds' friends and family members.
National Airlines will start flights from Windsor to Orlando in December. (Joana Draghici/CBC)

National Airlines will begin offering twice-weekly flights to Orlando, Florida, out of Windsor this year, hoping to draw a mix of sun-seekers and snowbirds' friends and family members.

Edward Davidson, the airline's president and chief operating officer, said the plan to bring these flights to Windsor has been in the works for months.

The airline believes that it will serve a market of vacationers, as well as travellers looking to visit friends and family in Florida.

But he said that Windsor has a lot to offer visitors, too.

"We believe that there is a lot going on in this area of Windsor," Davidson told reporters on Wednesday morning.

Davidson said that with the city's casino and the sports scene in the region, his airline believes "there's a good opportunity to make Windsor a very frequently visited location."

Dollar, incentives key for National

The airline executive said that the low Canadian dollar was a factor in National Airlines choosing to come to Windsor, though he said the city courted his company as well.

"They offered us a lot of incentives to come to the airport and we believe those incentives are important for the airline industry to assist in the start-up of our service and we believe  that the incentives that Windsor is offering, as well as the marketing assistance that they gave us and the advertising assistance has just been fundamental to our decision to come up here," said Davidson.

It is not immediately clear what incentives were offered.

When CBC News reached out to the city for details, Carolyn Brown, the CEO of the Windsor airport, provided an email statement saying that the airport's "arrangements with such airlines are confidential and are dependent on the specific needs of each airline and its particular route development."

Lots of Florida-bound travellers

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said research suggests people living in southern Ontario most often fly to Florida more than any other destination. 

"Orlando welcomed 62 million visitors last year," the mayor said. "So we know that our providing direct flights to Florida will be a huge hit with Windsor residents, with folks who live in Chatham, with folks who live in London and of course, I think that with the price of the Canadian dollar, the way it is today, we're certainly going to see a lot of folks coming over from Detroit, Michigan, as well."

National Airlines will fly two non-stop flights from Windsor to Orlando and back again on Thursdays and Saturdays. 

The inaugural flight is expected to take off from Windsor at 2:30 p.m. and land in Orlando at 5 p.m. on Dec. 17.

Introductory fares will be offered, which Davidson said, after consultation with a staff member, would be about $150 for a one-way ticket.

Davidson was asked Wednesday if the airline planned to offer travel to other destinations in future.

He said that was a possibility, depending on how successful this initial offering is.

"We'd love to, we're going to see how this works out," said Davidson.

With files from the CBC's Joana Draghici


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