CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - The first Southwest Airlines flight to Grand Rapids touched down at Gerald R. Ford International Airport Sunday morning.
The big flight drew big names to the airport, including Rep. Justin Amash (R-Grand Rapids) and Dick DeVos of Amway.
"It's very very exciting. It opens up all kinds of possibilities. It connects Grand Rapids to the world in many, many new ways," DeVos said. "If Southwest serves your city, you've arrived."
The first plane came in right before noon. Though delayed by a half hour, it brought with it a lot more than a plane full of passengers.
"Probably the most significant air service announcement that we've made here at Ford international," Ford Airport Executive Director Brian Ryks said.
Southwest promises to land more than savings for customers. It will put pressure on the other airlines, too.
"Airfares typically at airports like this get a little bit too high, so we bring them down. Other carriers match us and that causes traffic to grow dramatically," Pete Houghton of Southwest Airlines explained.
The airline boasts one-way trips less than $100 in some cases.
And not only airline customers will benefit, many say.
"We want to have interactions with places around the country and around the world, and it's going to help bring people to West Michigan," Rep. Justin Amash (R-Grand Rapids) said.
Kate Carmody boarded the inaugural flight out.
"It was actually, I think, like 200 bucks cheaper to fly today than it was when I was trying to get to Denver yesterday," Carmody said.
She said cheaper prices mean she'll likely make the trip more often.
The cost savings to others flying out of Ford Airport has yet to be seen. Airport officials said they expect it will take some time as competitors gauge the impact Southwest is having on their bottom lines.
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