Alaska Airlines is adding a daily nonstop flight from Seattle to Columbus, Ohio, starting March 7, 2019. It’s the first flight to connect the two cities in years and is a boon for the Midwestern capital city, which is already home to large outposts of some of the Seattle area’s biggest tech companies.
Microsoft has a corporate sales office and retail operation in Columbus. Boeing has a Columbus outpost and Amazon has more than 4,000 employees in the city at its cloud data centers and warehouses.
Columbus is also in the running for Amazon HQ2, a competition between 20 cities for the tech giant’s $5 billion second headquarters.
The city selected for Amazon HQ2 won’t be the only winner to come out of the contest. Alaska Airlines is sure to see an uptick in flyers as thousands of Amazon employees shuttle between Seattle and the second HQ.
Alaska had direct flights to 17 of the 20 cities on Amazon’s short list for HQ2 when the company winnowed the field of applicants. In September, Alaska is adding a nonstop flight to Pittsburgh, another candidate for HQ2. It will be the only direct flight between the two cities. The addition of Columbus will mean 19 of the 20 cities in the running for HQ2 will have nonstop Alaska flights from Seattle.
The new Alaska flights boost Columbus and Pittsburgh’s chances. Daily direct flights to Seattle are “an important consideration” to Amazon as the company makes its selection. But even with direct flights, the two Midwestern cities are considered longshots, compared with larger metropolises to the east and south competing for HQ2.
The Puget Sound Business Journal first reported on Alaska’s new Columbus flight.