SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- San Bernardino International Airport welcomed its first commercial passenger flight on Thursday as it seeks to expand services beyond general aviation and cargo.
The airport is partnering with a new airline, Breeze Airways, that will now offer daily flights from SBD to San Francisco that will continue on to Provo, Utah.
When Breeze Airways Flight 603 out of San Francisco touched down at SBD, it marked a new era for the former site of Norton Air Force Base.
"Truly history today because a very cool new partner, Breeze Airways, just flew into SBD," said Michael Burrows, San Bernardino International Airport's executive director.
Passengers on the inaugural flight into San Bernardino were greeted with cheers from gathered local leaders and swag to celebrate the occasion.
"We have these very convenient non-stop flights to very convenient airports where you don't have to drive too far, the security lines are much smaller and the parking is cheaper. Everything is just easier about the airport experience," said Tom Doxey, Breeze Airways president.
The airport invested $2.5 million in upgrades throughout the property, from the ticket counter to security checkpoints and runway to prepare for commercial travelers.
Local leaders are hopeful the revamped airport will help draw more people to the area.
"The opportunity to fly somewhere there hasn't been commercial service is really exciting to me," said passenger Jacob Erick. "I want to enjoy the San Bernardino area. I have never before, and I'm excited to see what it has to offer."
For other passengers, the direct flight to San Bernardino will help them connect more often with loved ones.
"This is where my grandma's house is and so it was perfect," Sabrina Stark said.
The site opened as an Air Force base during World War II and was decommissioned in 1994. Over the past decade it has been operating as a cargo and general aviation facility.