The first Direct Air flight from Toledo to Punta Gorda, Fla., took off at 11:30 a.m. from Toledo Express Airport Monday with 61 passengers on board.
Toledo Lucas County Port Authority officials and airline officals were on hand for the departure and what they hoped would be the first step towared a revival of the local airport.
Travelers waiting for the flight were eager to try out a service they said would be more convenient and less expensive than their previous alternatives to go to south Florida.
We were going to probably drive because the rates were so high, but then I stumbled on this airline and I ordered tickets, said Jackie Schroeder, of Ottawa, Ohio, who was headed to Port Charlotte, Fla., with her husband, Joe, and sons, Shane and Ethan.
Mrs. Schroeder said that in the past they have often flown from Columbus for similar trips.
Direct Air plans to fly the Toledo-Punta Gorda route twice weekly until at least mid-May. Punta Gorda is about halfway between Sarasota and Fort Myers, also in Florida. The airline also plans to begin twice-weekly flights to Myrtle Beach, S.C., starting in March.
We re glad to be here. It s a good day for us, and a good day for Toledo, said Ed Warneck, Direct Air s president, who flew up from Florida, along with 40 paying passengers, to Toledo, then returned south on the outbound flight.