Delta adds 35 direct flights out of Salt Lake
Mexico City, Guadalajara, Cancun, Victoria, Winnipeg and Edmonton all have one thing in common: direct flights to and from Salt Lake City.
"As of June 7, we will fly to 114 destinations out of Salt Lake City," said Anthony Black, senior manager of media relations for Delta Airlines. "We’ve added flights to Cancun and other cities in Mexico and Canadian flights, and we are looking to add a flight to Europe as early as 2008."
A year and a half ago, Delta started expanding the flights in and out of Salt Lake. Black said 30 flights have been added recently that also include direct connections to the East Coast such as Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham, N.C. and Nashville, Tenn.
"Salt Lake is a great hub to feed the East and West flow of traffic," Black said. "We’ve seen a lot of growth in the West Coast and growth in the Salt Lake market, people are connecting from the West Coast to the East Coast and we are able to flow those people to Salt Lake and to new destinations.
"We’ve started adding a number of those flights," Black continued. "A lot of those places are markets we have not served in the parameters that we have served in the past."
The newly added direct flights make the Salt Lake hub the largest for Delta in the West, Black said.
"The big thing for Salt Lake is, Delta offers more destinations out of Salt Lake City than any airlines, in any other city, in the West," Black said. "United is big in Denver, but they are a handful of destinations behind us."
This is good news for the Park City tourism market.
"Any time they add flights, it’s good for us," said Bill Malone, the executive director for the Park City Chamber/Bureau.
Black said Utah is becoming more of a popular destination since the Olympics. While more people are taking direct flights to Salt Lake, they are also connecting here to other states that have competing ski resort towns.
"We’ve connected to other ski destinations out of Salt Lake to other places that are popular," Black said. "We added Veil, Steamboat Springs, other places in Montana and a lot of places (that have) resorts. People are flowing from the East Coast and connecting in Utah for other resort markets.
"It’s a great connecting point and stopping point for a number of other people," Black added. "It’s also a great connecting point for other resort markets."
The stopovers should also bring more tourists to Utah, Malone said.
"I’ve always thought that anytime they are coming through the Salt Lake airport it’s an opportunity," Malone said. "You sit there and you look out those windows and you see the mountains. If I were sitting in the Salt Lake airport and seeing the mountains, I would be asking ‘What the hell am I doing? I should stop off here.’"
Delta’s decision to add direct flights to the East Coast, Malone said, "is great." But Mexico flights may have a large impact on Park City as well.
"The Mexico flights are so important because it’s a growing market for our ski season," Malone said. "We are seeing an increase in numbers from Mexico. International lift tickets have increased somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 percent over last year and Mexico is an important component of that."
Malone said if the Europe connections come to fruition, then that could be huge.
"We have a significant amount of international guests coming from the UK," Malone said.
Currently, Malone said, stopovers may be limiting Europe visitors.
"People don’t like to overshoot their destination," Malone said. "If I have to fly from London, land in L.A. then Denver and come back to Salt Lake, that’s an inconvenience, anytime you can directly fly, it benefits you. It just makes the process more convenient, and gives people more time on vacation than flying."
Tourism numbers may not immediately rise as a result of the direct flights, Malone said.
"The good news is Delta is willing to go out there and commit to make flights, but sometimes it takes awhile to build the demand," Malone said.
With the new flights, comes a new demographic to target in the East Coast, Canada and Mexico. Malone said the Chamber/Bureau will research the strongest markets and find data on every part of the country and their propensity for travel.
"We have to take a look at it," Malone said. "I don’t know how many potential customers there are there, I don’t know the ski market or if Raleigh/ Durham has the same amount of skiers. We look at how many skiers in a demographic fit and we will make marketing adjustments."
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