TAMPA, Fla. (970 WFLA) - Tampa International Airport is offering daily nonstop arrival and departure service between Tampa and Seattle through Alaska Airlines. The first flight took off June 20.

The first flight, which was greeted by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and Seattle- and Tampa-themed entertainment, marked the first time in the history of Tampa International Airport that nonstop flights have been available to the Pacific Northwest United States.

“This is a great day for the Tampa Bay region, which has long enjoyed nonstop routes to destinations all over the country and world and can now add the Pacific Northwest to that list,” said Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano in a news release. “We’re thrilled to welcome Alaska Airlines aboard, and we know this will be a very popular service for both leisure and business travelers.”

The Seattle/Tampa route is said to be one of the top three unserved markets in the United States. More than 160 passengers a day fly from Tampa to Seattle. The addition of the nonstop service to Seattle means those passengers no longer have to connect through another airport.

Alaska Airlines will operate a Boeing 737-800 with 16 business class seats and 147 coach seats. Flights will leave daily from Tampa International Airport at 6:30 p.m. and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at 8:50 a.m.

Minner said the new route would not have been possible without the involvement of Visit Tampa Bay, Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. The partners were instrumental in “telling the story of Tampa Bay,” he said, as they participated in several visits to Seattle and meetings with Alaska Airlines to help bring the service to the area.

Photo Credit Tampa International Airport