Photo credits: Photographer, James Borchuck. Including public media relation files.
Canadian Snowbirds who winter in St Pete
Celebrating what is likely the 40th Anniversary of the Canadian snowbirds wintering in St Pete, it is likely no surprise to Canadians that the ultra-low fare airline, Swoop has started direct flights from Canada to the St Pete airport starting this November.
Dating back to the 1970s Canadian snowbirds have had a deep history of wintering in St Petersburg Florida and throughout Pinellas County when they began investing heavily into Florida cities such as Clearwater and along the Gulf Beaches extending to St Pete Beach. Like compound interest Canadian snowbirds have accumulated a large real estate investment portfolio.
Throughout the 1980s snowbirds kept returning to St Petersburg’s beach communities every snowbird season, which typically lasted from October through May when most Canadians leave Florida and crossed back over into Canada. During 1980s Clearwater Florida was nearly colonized by snowbirds who snatched up beach condominiums with guaranteed oceanfront views and daily sunsets that would keep the snowbirds returning to Florida for years to come.
By the 1990s snowbirds changed their winter destination from Clearwater to St Petersburg by investing in single-family homes and beach condos from St Pete Beach north to Clearwater over the past 30 years. For over 40 years, the St Pete area has enjoyed a significant amount of Canadian snowbird traffic annually and the snowbird effect extends into real holdings by Canadians totally nearly $1 billion USD in residential and commercial properties.
Where is the St Petersburg, Fl airport?
The St Petersburg Airport (“PIE“) is located just outside of Pinellas County and west-southwest from the center city area of Saint Petersburg, Florida which lies on a peninsula between Tampa Bay and Boca Ciega Bay along the Gulf Of Mexico coast. It has direct flights to many major Canadian cities including Hamilton and Toronto, Ontario, Canada airports. Discover more about behind the scenes of the St Petersburg airport on St Pete Talk’s YouTube channel.
A Baby Boomer‘s Airport
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Pinellas Army Airfield was constructed and used as a base for military flight training. The facility changed locations to its current site during WWII. At that time it was known as Pinellas AAF (Army Air Field) where soldiers based P-40s and later replaced them with P-51 planes before redeployment after World War II ended and the baby boomer generation began.
The St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport is the only public airport in Pinellas County, Florida and provides direct flights to 12 destinations throughout North America via 3 airlines including Canadian based airline Swoop. Originally opened after WWII as a commercial airstrip for military operations it was then named the “PIE” (Pinellas International Airport).
How to Swoop to Florida
Where is the Hamilton, Ontario airport?
Swoop Flights to PIE from Hamilton |YYM to PIE
This is good snowbirds, the airline has made it easy for snowbirds from the Hamilton area of Ontario to swoop to St Petersburg (PIE) initially this November on Tuesdays with added Swoop flights on Saturdays starting in January 2022. These ultra-low fares for Canadians will encourage snowbirds who have been locked up on lockdown due to the pandemic to come to explore St Petersburg this winter season.
Upon arrival at the St Petersburg airport, snowbirds will proceed through a modern almost cozy, US Customs entry-point and international baggage claim. Once you have been cleared through customs and with luggage in tow most snowbirds can reach their St Pete beach condos within about an 1 hour of arriving landing at PIE.
With the new ultra-low fares offered by this airline, it is easier than ever for snowbirds to get away from their Canadian winter homes and enjoy St Petersburg’s sunny shores. We look forward to snowbirds returning to St Petersburg for the winter holidays. Enjoy St Petersburg? We can help you find your perfect condo in St Petersburg or Pinellas County with our comprehensive directory of local real estate agents who specialize in beachfront properties. Contact us today!
“We are delighted to see Swoop add ultra-low-cost options to the Sunshine State from Hamilton for the upcoming winter travel season. Traveling between airports like Hamilton International, Orlando Sanford and St. Pete-Clearwater has become increasingly appealing to passengers looking for a comfortable travel experience that a smaller airport can offer,” said Cathie Puckering, president and CEO of John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport. “Hamilton International remains committed alongside Swoop to serving the local community and ensuring people can return to the skies comfortably and get to where they need to go with confidence.”
Swoop Flights to PIE from Toronto | YYZ to PIE
The busy Toronto International Airport is ideal for snowbirds from the Mississauga area of Toronto who winter in St Petersburg, Fl. With flights from Toronto starting in early November 2021, and with added flights in 2022, just at the peak of the snowbird season in January.
Initially, snowbirds will be swooped to St Petersburg with direct flights on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with returning flights on Saturdays and the last return flight to Toronto is in April when Swoop will no longer service the St Petersburg Fl airport until the winter of 2022.
Where is the Toronto International Airport?
Most snowbirds use the Toronto International Airport located in Mississauga, Ontario, just west of downtown Toronto. The Toronto airport (YYZ) is a major international airport that offers flights to and from many different destinations around the world. It’s connected by highways 401 and 427 with downtown areas of both Mississauga and Toronto.
Swoop Flights to Hamilton airports | PIE to YYM
Commonly known as the ‘St Pete airport‘ by locals and PIE by airport officials, Swoop passengers will discover the airport offers modern facilities with easy international check-in at terminal counters.
While waiting for a Swoop flight, passenger terminal amenities at the St Pete airport focuses on local small businesses in the area and in particular the Mazzaro’s Italian Market or enjoy a brewski from St Petersburg brewery,3 Daughters Brewery.
Historically, snowbirds have returned to Canada at the end of snowbird season in May and the airline Swoop opted not to disrupt the normal snowbird migration pattern and won’t offer flights in the off-season, presently.
Instead, they have issued a “last call” of sorts to Canadian snowbirds that return flights to Canada are offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays and their ultra-low fares will cease at the end of the season in April of 2022.
St Pete Airport: Information Booth | PIE
Whether you are a snowbird who winters in St Petersburg or if you are a local from St Pete what you will discover about the St Petersburg-Clearwater airport is that it prides itself immensely on terminal customer service by providing an “Information Booth” near the baggage claim to answer terminal passenger questions related to local hotels, car rentals, or how to find your Uber driver. The information booth is staffed by volunteers from the community and many of the staff are snowbirds themselves who winter in St Petersburg and support the community through volunteering.
“We are excited to welcome Canada-based Swoop to our family of airlines,” said St. Pete-Clearwater International airport director, Tom Jewsbury. “Canadians will have a convenient, non-stop option to fly to our award-winning destination from Toronto and Hamilton, Canada, and many will want to visit as the borders reopen. Being one of only a few of Swoop’s U.S. destinations, we are confident that the sunny St. Pete-Clearwater area will be a popular one. We want to thank our partners at Visit St. Pete/Clearwater and Volaire Aviation for helping us make this possible.”
St Pete Talk
St Pete Talk is pleased to share with readers our tour of the PIE airport where we were granted behind-the-scenes access on how the ultra low-fare airline Swoop will operate in St Petersburg, Fl. Just in time, snowbird season starts in October with Swoop’s initial flights starting in November.
About St Pete Talk, we cover St Pete homes and the real estate agents who sell them with our news service blog, ‘St Pete Talk‘ is published by local real estate agent Tony Smith from the Dalton Wade Real Estate Group in St Petersburg, Fl.
Tony joined the Canadian Snowbird Association to educate fellow members about the Pinellas County, Fl real estate market. If you’re looking for a friendly St Petersburg real estate agent who can help with your property search or sale, contact us today! We love serving other snowbird association members like our fellow countrymen — even if they are only here temporarily as winter visitors.
St Pete Talk is not affiliated with St Petersburg’s airport, ultra low-fare airline Swoop and was not compensated for this article. Photo credits: Photographer, James Borchuck. Including public media relation files.