WEST BAY — A route between our nation’s capital and Panama City is officially open for nonstop air travel.
Tuesday morning at around 8:53 a.m., the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport welcomed the first plane from Washington D.C. to Panama City. The new nonstop flight option will run daily from ECP to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).
The 50-seat airplane was welcomed by two trucks shooting off water cannons that the plane went under. It signified the airport’s "Water Cannon Salute."
"Today is a great day for us. We’ve been working on this D.C. service for probably five or six years," Parker McClellan, ECP Executive Director said. "A big part of our community is military. We saw about five or six military personnel as well as some DOD (Department of Defense) contractors."
Congressman Neal Dunn and Florida Representative Jay Trumbull were handing out bags to passengers coming off the plane. Afterward, they boarded the plane to head to D.C. on what was the first nonstop flight out of ECP.
With the rebuild of Tyndall Air Force Base, the addition of the flight makes it easier for military personnel to fly back and forth from D.C. to Panama City. Kathleen Ferguson, Senior Advisor for Installations, Energy, and Environment of The Roosevelt Group, flies to Panama City often to support the efforts to rebuild Tyndall.
"The nonstop flight from D.C. is great. I come down here very often and always have to fly through Atlanta or Charlotte," said Ferguson. "A direct flight will greatly improve my ability to come down here. Plus with the Pentagon, and all the folks from D.C. that come back and forth, it’ll be a great addition for them."
According to Ferguson, it will also be easier for the officials in D.C. who control resources and policies to rebuild Tyndall.
"It (will) allow them to get up in the morning, fly down here, spend the day here, and get right back to Washington D.C.," said Ferguson.
The nonstop flight from D.C. will kick off a series of options for ECP, beginning in March for Spring Break. ECP announced in late November that nonstop service wil be offered between ECP and Austin, Chicago, Columbus, Denver and St. Louis.