EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- The process of bringing Southwest Airlines to the Colorado Springs Airport took a big step at Tuesday's meeting of El Paso County commissioners.
Commissioners voted unanimously -- with member Holly Williams absent -- to allocate $300,000 to support the arrival of the popular, highly-coveted airline.
The money comes from a tax on aviation fuel at the airport; the tax can only be used for major airport projects.
Local leaders announced the plan to bring Southwest to the area at a news conference last week.
"Southwest will fly large jets and offer up to 2,000 additional seats daily," said Gregg Phillips, airport director. "That gives us access to (Southwest's) network of 100 cities, and the potential to offer more nonstop flights in the future. The competition will lower fares for customers and we're already seeing that happen."
The Colorado Springs City Council will vote on allocating a similar amount next week. Much of the $2.5 million in financial incentives for Southwest is coming from private donations.
Southwest begins 13 daily nonstop flights to Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix in March.
"Meeting and event planners and vacationers can now look at us as a true destination and making it so much easier to get here," said Doug Price, head of the area's Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"We lose about 7 million seats a year that fly out of DIA instead of here," said Dirk Draper, head of the city's Chamber of Commerce. "Those are folks in our ZIP codes in this area."
Local leaders anticipate that Southwest will provide a major boost to the area's economy as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.