San Luis Obispo took another step forward in its quest to become a major tourism and tech hub on Feb. 27 when it announced the inauguration of nonstop service to Denver, beginning in June.
The single United Express flight, which arrives in SLO in the evening and departs at the crack of dawn the next day, will complement a new Seattle flight on Alaska Airlines that begins operations in early April.
The new flight will be operated by SkyWest Airlines. It will leave Denver beginning on June 8 at 7:10 p.m. and arrive in SLO at 8:48 p.m., according to a news release. The first departure flight from SLO to Denver will be on June 9 at 5:40 a.m. and will arrive in Denver at 9:06 a.m.
The announcement is a coup not only for the San Luis Obsipo County Regional Airport but also for major tourism and economic development organizations. It also vindicates the county’s decision to replace the existing airport terminal with a new facility, currently under construction.
In terms of economic development, a number of technology and manufacturing firms have long sought an early morning flight to Denver, which will provide same-day connecting service to major U.S. cities. Tourism officials have cited strong traffic connecting to Denver via Los Angeles and San Francisco as a reason for direct flights.
“Business and leisure travelers now have conveniently timed daily flights to Denver and multiple opportunities to connect to other cities throughout the Western U.S. and beyond,” said Anthony Toth, United’s managing director of sales, in a statement.
The announcement, which increases daily flights from SLO to 13, “speaks to our tireless effort to grow our service,” said county Director of Airports Kevin Bumen in a news release.
“Visit SLO CAL is excited to be a part of securing the new non-stop air service between Denver and San Luis Obispo — the second new major market flight announcement in under a year,” said Chuck Davison, CEO of Visit SLO CAL, the regional tourism organization.
“The growth of flights and destinations at the airport is key to the vitality of our local economy and to keeping and growing jobs in the area,” said Mike Manchak, executive director of the SLO County Economic Vitality Corp.
The new flights from SLO are a reversal of fortunes of a sort for the Central Coast, which has seen United Express flights consolidated in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria. Ventura County has hoped to bring back service to the Oxnard Airport but so far without success.
• Contact Henry Dubroff at [email protected]