NEW BEDFORD - Heading to Florida for the winter? Forget the trip to Boston or Providence. New Bedford Regional Airport is now offering flights to the southeastern area of the Sunshine State through a commercial airline.

Elite Airways announced Tuesday that non-stop jet service from New Bedford to Vero Beach, Florida, would begin on December 16. The airline has seven scheduled flights for the holiday season.

In a written statement, Elite Airways president John Pearsall says, "Vero Beach is becoming a hot destination for vacationers and seasonal residents alike, and we are pleased to offer holiday nonstops to New Bedford."

Pearsall says the airline has found a niche flying out of smaller regional airports, allowing passengers to "avoid traffic jams, crowds and long lines, and enjoy more quality time with friends and family during the holidays."

The non-stop flights start at $239 each way.

New Bedford Regional Airport was able to secure FAA approval for commercial air service earlier this year, allowing larger airlines to utilize the airport and offer a wider variety of destinations to Greater New Bedford residents.