INDIANAPOLIS - An executive with Alaska Airlines says its decision to expand into Indianapolis International Airport was heavily influenced by the city's reputation for growth, its business community and blossoming tech scene. Vice President of Capacity Planning John Kirby says Indy offers "a lot of business synergies" with the carrier's mainly West Coast destinations, leading to nonstop flights to tech hot spots San Francisco and Seattle. Alaska Airlines' first trip between IND and Sea-Tac took off Thursday and Kirby says advanced interest has been strong.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Kirby says the current relationship with Indianapolis is only the beginning. "Generally, if we're well-supported in the market we go into, we add more service," he says. "We usually start with Seattle because it's out largest market. We've already announced San Francisco, but we have hubs in Anchorage and Portland and Los Angeles, and we have focus cities in San Jose and San Diego, so those are all potential opportunities if the service does well."

He says even more conversations about additional dealings with Indianapolis are being sparked because of tech. "We're looking for markets that we see economic growth, as well as business synergies that fit that likely will have travel between the West Coast and that metro area," and Kirby says Indianapolis fits the bill. He says advanced bookings for the Seattle flight were so positive, the company took an unusual step and announced service to San Francisco before even measuring the impact of the initial batch of new traffic.

Flights to Seattle-Tacoma International, Alaska Airlines' home base, are now underway and flights to San Francisco International will launch in September.