A Southwest Airlines plane flies over the Los Altos neighborhood as it makes its final approach into Long Beach Airport Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Southwest Airlines on Friday announced it would begin weekly flights from Long Beach Airport to Orlando International Airport (MCO) next summer. The route is Southwest’s first nonstop East Coast route out of Long Beach since arriving in 2016.

“With LGB’s proximity to Disneyland, and MCO’s location near Walt Disney World, one could say these new flights are building a bridge between the two happiest places on earth,” Long Beach Airport Director Cynthia Guidry said in a statement.

The flight will depart Long Beach on Saturdays on a seasonal basis, according to the announcement. The carrier also announced additional daily weekday flights to Chicago Midway International Airport.

The new routes will kick off July 11.

Friday’s announcement is the latest in a string of new routes from Southwest this year. In June, the company announced nonstop service to Nashville, with that flight continuing on to Washington, D.C. Nashville service began last month.

In July and November, respectively, the Texas-based company announced seasonal service to New Orleans and daily service to Salt Lake City. Both routes begin next month.

The small municipal airport is limited in the number of daily flights it can offer due to a strict noise ordinance. Currently, 53 slots are held by carriers, but that figure will be bumped up to 58 in the coming months, with the airport adding five daily slots following its most recent noise audit.

Southwest currently holds 40 of the daily flight slots after it was awarded two more last month. The slots became available after newcomer Breeze Airways forfeited its only daily flight slot and American Airlines relinquished one of its slots.

The five new slots have not yet been awarded to any airline, but it is likely Southwest will pick up multiple. Including Orlando, Southwest flies direct to 17 U.S. cities, which is likely to increase further as the company continues to announce destinations for the remainder of its slots and any it may gain in the future.

Long Beach Airport to add 5 daily flights following annual noise budget review

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Business Journal.