July is one of busiest travel months at the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. The increase in traffic and business is especially good for one airline.
"Traffic has been great. We've seen a continual increases starting in March. April and May, we're in the five to six percent range," says John Wheat, the Executive Director of the Airport.
June's numbers are not out yet, but airport officials expect about a 10 percent increase, a number they say can be contributed to airline expansion.
"We believe that because Southwest started their test service to St. Louis with one flight a day, and that's been extremely successful filling the planes almost everyday," says Wheat.
A success that relied on a major agreement to attract Southwest airlines here back in 2010.
"We all thought the service would be successful and would do great things for us, but it was a risk. And the St. Joe company stepped up to provide that financial backstop," says Dan Rowe, the Executive Director of the Panama City Beach Tourist Development Council.
According to the agreement between Southwest and the St. Joe's Company, St. Joe would reimburse the airline for up to 26 million dollars losses in the first three years. Southwest, however, was so successful that no money was paid, and they canceled the agreement.
"Having Southwest and St. Joe being able to cancel that agreement because they've not needed the funds is a huge testament to the strength of the service that Southwest has provided and the people who are flying into our new airport," says Rowe.
Southwest's lease agreement is extended through 2015.