You had us at Hello, Bob

  • November 4, 2013
  • /   Shannon Nickinson
  • /   community-dashboard
“Hey Pensacola, We’ve arrived!” says the banner on

Luv Southwest Airlines style was in the air this morning at the breakfast celebration officially welcoming the carrier into Pensacola.

Even as Southwest’s vice president for airport affairs, Bob Montgomery, was pitching the company’s rapid rewards frequent flier program to a roomful for would-be customers Monday morning at the Sanders Beach Corrine Jones Community Center, he was quick to note the new service is the result of a long courtship.

“It’s not all about business,” Montgomery said. “It’s all about people.”

The other places he has visited in Northwest Florida as the carrier considered establishing roots have the same white sand that Pensacola has. But those places lack a something Pensacola excels at, he said.

“They don’t have the business that you have here,” Montgomery said. “They don’t have the culture that you have here. They don’t have the energy that you have here.”

The personal touch as only Pensacola can offer it was the theme of the morning for Montgomery as he sang our city’s praises, and for Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, who called the carrier’s arrival a “testimony to the power of relationships.”

Pensacola has been courting Southwest since the early 1990s. Officials have passed the cause of luring the low-cost carrier through several iterations of city government. Hayward said that shortly after he took office as the city’s first elected strong mayor, he heard that he had to land Southwest.

Now fliers can reap the benefits of direct connections to Houston and Nashville and no fees for checked bags. Tourism promoters gain access to juicy tourism markets for the area to build upon.

And Pensacola can see the benefits of welcoming a company that has, as Montgomery cited, a 43-year- track record of profitability and a strong profile of community service.
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