Seizing on growing demand for Cayman Islands vacations, low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines launched its third route into the islands Saturday.

The Dallas-headquartered airline will fly direct from Baltimore/Washington airport once a week throughout the summer.

Senior director Steven Swan, who was in Grand Cayman to launch the new route Saturday, said the success of its flights from Fort Lauderdale and Houston had prompted further expansion.

He said the Cayman Islands were an increasingly popular destination for US-based travellers, and the airline is constantly looking at possible new routes.

“It’s the people, the experience, the hotels, the natural beauty of the islands – it is in high demand,” he said.

Southwest has been flying into the territory for a little over two years and has transported more than 60,000 passengers to and from the islands.

Southwest director Steven Swan believes Grand Cayman is an increasingly popular destination for US tourists.

“We launched from Fort Lauderdale and we were doing so well there,” said Swan.

“We saw people were connecting from the rest of our network into Fort Lauderdale so it just made sense to offer non-stop service from some of those markets.”

He said the airline would continue to look for opportunities to bring more flights into Cayman and add new routes.

The pilot of the first Southwest flight from Baltimore to Grand Cayman unfurls the Maryland flag from the cockpit window after touchdown on Saturday. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

The first flight from Baltimore arrived Saturday around 11am to a water-cannon salute from the waiting fire trucks.

The flight was near capacity on both legs, according to Swan, who is responsible for strategic planning and airline partnerships at Southwest.

As well as bringing new tourists to the island from a major hub, he said, the new route provided Cayman Islands residents with an opportunity to visit the US capital.

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