Options for air travel out of Monterey Regional Airport just got a little wider with the announcement that a non-stop daily flight to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Alaska Airlines will officially launch on June 18.
About 50 business representatives from the local tourism and agriculture industries, as well as city councilmembers and other leaders, were on hand at the joint announcement between Monterey Peninsula Airport District officials and Alaska Airlines made on Jan. 15, in the downstairs airport ticketing area.
Franco Finn, manager of external relations for Alaska, raised his glass—a mimosa served in a commemorative glass etched with the airport’s name—to toast the new service that he said will open up new connections to the airline’s major hub in Seattle for travelers from the Monterey region.
“This is just the beginning for Monterey, it opens up a whole pathway to amazing places and destinations,” Finn said. Those destinations include Hawaii, Mexico and transcontinental flights totaling more than 900 destinations worldwide, using partner airlines. “Tickets are on sale now and they’re already selling fast,” he said.
Alaska will only be offering one flight a day, seven days a week, that will depart Monterey at 2:15pm, arriving in Seattle at 4:40pm. Returning flights will leave Seattle daily at 11:10am and arrive in Monterey at 1:35pm.
A second daily flight could be added within about two years if there’s a demand, says David Besse, Alaska’s manager of network planning. In making the decision to start a daily nonstop flight, the airline saw Monterey as a good year-round market to invest in.
Seattle has been the prize that Monterey airport officials and local businesses have been eyeing for about seven years, said Mary Ann Leffel, who recently took over as chair of the airport district board. She recalled how airport officials gave Alaska data back then to bolster why it should offer a nonstop flight to Seattle, only to have the company offer nonstop flights to San Diego, "and we said we'll take it," hoping Seattle flights would come later.
Carmel City Councilmember Bobby Richards—who recently took over as manager of the airport's restaurant in a partnership with Chef Rich Pepe—says the Seattle flights will help further bolster local tourism, especially in winter when people in the Pacific Northwest will want to escape the snow and visitor numbers dip on the Peninsula.
This is the third new nonstop destination added to the airport’s offerings since 2018. Flights to Denver International Airport via United Airlines began in October of that year. Last April, seasonal flights to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport with American Airlines were added.
The Dallas route is popular with Texans who frequent Carmel and Pebble Beach during the hot Texas summer months, as well as the holidays. Originally, American planned on ending the flights in November for the winter, but later pushed back the date to January. Those flights are scheduled to return in April.