City News Blog


This is the official blog of the City of Lakeland, Florida. Check back frequently to stay up to date with all that going on in our beautiful city!

Direct Air Announces 3 New Destinations: Pittsburgh, PA, Columbus, OH, Gulfport-Biloxi, MS!

Lakeland, Florida – Gene Conrad, Lakeland Linder Airport Director, has a lot to smile about after receiving the call from Ed Warneck and Kay Ellison, managing partners of Direct Air, from their corporate office in Myrtle Beach this week. Not one, not two, but three new routes are being added to the Direct Air schedule starting in May, 2012, less than 9 months from when service began from the under-utilized airport.  Direct Air also reported they were close to finalizing two or three more destinations within a few weeks if all goes well. “For now,” commented Warneck, “let’s get ready for Pittsburgh, Columbus, Ohio, and Gulfport-Biloxi.” 

Direct Air announced today the introduction of new nonstop service between three additional destinations; 

1) Pittsburgh, PA will begin nonstop service Friday, Saturday, and Monday beginning May 18, 2012

2) Columbus, OH, served from Rickenbacker International Airport, will begin nonstop service Thursday and Sundays beginning June 17, 2012

3) Gulfport-Biloxi, MS will begin nonstop service Wednesday, Friday, and Sundays beginning June 15, 2012

“This is the typical expansion pattern of Direct Air,” states Warneck. “We start off with a few flights per week and add frequency and additional destinations based on demand. I guess you could say we grow with the market. The support from the community and careful management by the Lakeland Airport Director and his staff helped accelerate the process.”   

“What a year it has been for Direct Air, our marketing partners and Lakeland Linder Regional Airport,” said Gene Conrad, Lakeland Airport Director. “When we began service back in June of last year we never thought we would see the passenger numbers we are seeing now.  We will move over 100,000 passengers through our facility in our first year of operations and we are looking forward to far exceeding those numbers with the additional destinations that are being added today.”

The addition of Gulfport-Biloxi, MS; Columbus, OH; and Pittsburgh, PA, will compliment the already served markets of Niagara Falls, NY; Plattsburgh, NY; and Springfield, IL. 

To celebrate the announcement of the new service from Lakeland a special promotional fare of $99 will be offered, certain restrictions may apply.  The reservation must be booked before midnight, Wednesday, February 22, 2012. Reservations can be booked at or by calling Direct Air’s Reservations Department toll-free at 1-877-432-3473.

Tourism and Casino officials in Gulfport applauded Direct Air when they received notice of the introduction of year-round air service between Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, Florida and Gulfport-Biloxi Airport, MS beginning this spring. The nonstop ninety-minute flight service will be offered three times per week, on, Fridays, Sundays, and Wednesdays beginning June 15, 2012.

Florida residents are eager for the nonstop flights between the two vacation destinations. Scheduled service did not exist at Lakeland prior to June 23, 2011 when Direct Air began service from the under-served airport. From the beginning, Direct Air was pleased with the positive response it received and quickly began researching additional destinations that would fit the Direct Air model.

Direct Air has been providing scheduled public charter flights since March 2007; flying 67,000 passengers the first year of operation.  Since then, Direct Air has carried over 1.5 million passengers and increased service from 4 destinations to 17. The company has carved out a strong niche in developing secondary markets through under-utilized airports with a focus on leisure travel. 

When asked the reason for their success when others are ending service and grounding planes, Warneck responded by saying, “Our business foundation has been built on four basic cornerstones.

1) Safety is always first.

2) Selling to the needs of the customer – low fares, nonstop service.

3) Building community relationships by working with them rather than doing it alone.

4) Bringing economic growth and jobs to the community. “

Warneck’s partner Kay Ellison commented, “Are we excited, you bet we are! Gulfport, Mississippi has always been an attractive vacation destination. Year after year, Gulfport is consistently a top leisure destination for people from central and western Florida looking for a quick getaway. Gulfport offers the excitement of eleven world-class casino resorts, twenty top-tier golf courses, and an abundance of outdoor activities.  We believe Gulfport will be the getaway destination of choice for our customers from the Tampa Bay and Orlando areas. Travelers in central Florida have discovered the exceptional value and convenience that Direct Air offers.”

Direct Air offers flight service in the following markets: Myrtle Beach, SC; Pittsburgh, PA; Newark, NJ; Columbus, OH; Plattsburgh, NY; Toledo, OH; Kalamazoo, MI; Worcester, MA; Niagara Falls, NY; Allentown, PA; Rockford, IL; Springfield, IL; Orlando-Sanford, FL; Punta Gorda, FL, West Palm Beach, FL, and Gulfport, MS. 

 All Direct Air flights are Public Charters operated on Boeing 737-400, 150 passenger jet aircraft by Xtra Airways and by Sky King Airlines.


For additional information contact Stan Rydelek at Direct Air Corporate Office at 1-843-916-9700.


Airfares are one-way, subject to availability and subject to change.  Fares do include Federal Excise Tax of 7.5%.  Fares do not include Federal Flight Segment Tax of $3.80, September 11th Security Fee of $2.50, and Passenger Facility Charges of up to $4.50 per person per direction of travel.   A convenience fee of $15 per direction will be assessed for customers who book at  Reservations booked by calling Direct Air’s Reservations department will cost an additional $25 per person each way, reflecting a $15 convenience fee and $10 call center fee. See Operator-Participant Agreement for full disclosure.



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