“We’re making history:” Travelers have new option to fly direct to Cancun

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Mitchell International Airport is making it a whole lot easier for Milwaukee travelers to take a Caribbean getaway!  Early Saturday morning, Southwest airlines took its first flight from Milwaukee direct to Cancun, Mexico.

Travelers were very excited to take the flight.

"We came down to balloons and food and coffee!" said traveler, Alexia Rebne.

"We're making history and we're having a lot of fun," said Harold Rutledge, Southwest Airlines Milwaukee Station Man.

Doug Rutledge is Southwest Airlines Milwaukee station manager.  The company came to Mitchell in 2009 with 12 flights to six cities. Now it is Milwaukee's largest air-carrier with non-stop service to 20 cities.  A lot of that is due to its acquisition of AirTran.

This sold-out flight marks Southwest's first foray into international travel out of Mitchell.  Trips will depart and arrive weekly on Saturdays -- flying directly to Cancun.

"It's really important for us. We don't like to jump around to different airports," said traveler, Thomas Karls.

It's also boosting general business at the airport.

"Our parking is cheaper than flying out of Chicago and our fares are lower.  It`s an easier more relaxed airport," said Harold Mester, Public Relations Manager for Mitchell International Airport.

In the first half of the year, the number of domestic and international travelers climbed two-and-a-half percent.  And Southwest isn't done!  2015 could be an even bigger year.

"We hope to have some additional growth.  It could be more Caribbean cities or cities domestically served non-stop from Milwaukee," said Rutledge.

Jamaica and The Dominican Republic will be next, and perhaps two more parties are on the horizon.

"We are the Love Airline and we enjoy doing these kinds of things. Our customers enjoy what we do for them," said Rutledge.

Four other airlines serve international destinations out of Mitchell International Airport.

This winter, Delta and Frontier will resume seasonal non-stop service to Cancun.  Southwest plans to keep their Cancun flights year-round.