Cape Air’s first flight from Owensboro to Nashville left at 7:35 a.m. Wednesday, landed in Nashville 38 minutes later and pulled up to the terminal, Airport Director Rob Barnett said.

Officials at Nashville International Airport were there to welcome the new airline, he said.

All nine seats on the aircraft were full, with people planning to connect in Nashville to flights going to Washington state, New York and Vermont, Barnett said.

The passengers came from several area towns, he said.

Since 2011, Cape Air has offered three flights a day between Owensboro and St. Louis.

But when it rebid its contract for supplying essential air service to Owensboro last fall, the airline said it would add two flights a day to Nashville — which the airport board wanted — and continue with one flight daily to St. Louis.

The Nashville flights leave Owensboro at 7:35 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Barnett said the early flight is to ensure that people connecting to other airlines in Nashville will have plenty of time.

The St. Louis flight leaves Owensboro at 10:15 a.m. and returns at 4:10 p.m.

Cape Air’s website says Nashville flights range from $30 to $35 each way.

St. Louis flights range from $19 to $29.

“Everything has been very positive today,” Barnett said.

One advantage of the flights to Nashville, he said, is that Southwest Airlines is in the same terminal as Cape Air.

In St. Louis, passengers flying Southwest have to go into one terminal, pick up their bags, go back outside to wait for a bus and ride it to a different terminal.

“Southwest has a huge footprint in Nashville,” Barnett said.

He said he’s hoping to attract passengers going to Nashville from St. Louis — and vice versa — to fly through Owensboro.

That’s cheaper than flying a different airline from St. Louis to Nashville, Barnett said.

“Ticket sales so far are on target,” he said.

Flying to Nashville from Owensboro is more convenient than driving, Barnett said.

In Owensboro, passengers can park near the terminal and not take a shuttle to long-term parking, he said.

Driving to Nashville takes two hours or so, and passengers need to arrive an hour-and-a-half to two hours before a flight, Barnett said.

In Owensboro, Cape Air passengers are asked to arrive an hour early.

Cape Air plans to add brand-new planes to the route. But they haven’t arrived yet, Barnett said.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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