Direct flights to
L.A. to begin this winter
Express Staff Writer
will be able to fly directly between Sun Valley and Los Angeles this
Airís daily round-trip flights are expected to boost Sun Valley skier
numbers and make business and vacation travel more convenient for Wood
River Valley residents. The new service begins Dec. 15.
service was jump-started by a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of
Transportation to guarantee its profitability the first year. The
department is providing $20 million to 40 communities across the country
as part of a program to develop rural air service.
Blaine County Air Transportation Advisory Group, composed of
representatives from all local governments, Sun Valley Co. and other
local businesses, applied for the grant in April. The department
announced its award June 26.
application was prompted by a market analysis done last year by airline
consultants Mead & Hunt Inc. predicting that the route should be
profitable. How profitable will depend on local marketing efforts, said
Mike Boggs, the companyís manager of airport business services.
is a very doable project," he said. "Iíll be surprised if
much of the (grant) money is used at all if itís well marketed."
creation of the Snowball Express train in Sun Valleyís early days,
Southern California has been one of the resortís biggest tourism
excited about this new nonstop, direct air service from Los Angeles to
Sun Valley," Wallace Huffman, Sun Valley Co. general manager, said
in a press release.
daily flights are the first ever flights from Southern California to Sun
Valley in the more than 65 years of our operations. This service will
allow Sun Valley to compete with other Western ski resorts that have had
direct service from this market. This will be a year-round stimulus to
the economic health of the Ketchum Sun Valley community."
flights between the Hailey airport and Los Angeles will use 70-seat Q400
turboprop planes now in service from Seattle. Instead of returning to
Seattle, the planes will continue to Los Angeles in late morning and
return that same afternoon. That will result in one daily round trip to
Seattle instead of the current two.
time to Los Angeles will be two hours and 40 minutes. Current flights
take at least four hours due to the stopover in Salt Lake City.
was awarded to Hailey and Blaine County, which jointly own Friedman
Memorial Airport. However, it will be used if needed to cover a
guarantee in a contract made between Sun Valley Co. and Horizon Air. The
contract guarantees Horizon $11,387 per round trip up to a total of
$600,000 for the year.
Sibbach, Sun Valley Co.ís marketing director, said the flights are
needed to put Sun Valley on a level playing field with its major
competitors, all of whom have direct flights to L.A.
direct, non-stop flight should stimulate the market," Sibbach said.
"But I think we need it just to stay where we are. Itís hard to
say how much extra business itís going to give us."
Valley-Ketchum Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carol Waller said
Sun Valley is one of the few major ski resorts without subsidized air
in the Department of Transportation grant application was a commitment
to marketing. Waller said the chamber is working on a $175,000 promotion
plan for ads, ski shows and direct mail to southern California.
said Idahoís congressional delegation was instrumental in lobbying for
kinds of opportunities are what Idaho needs to increase and stabilize
our rural economies," Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, stated in a press
is inaugurating the service with an eye on more than just tourism,
however. About 30 percent of the flights are expected to originate in
a whole lot of residential outbound traffic," Waller said.
lowest fares for the route are $398 round trip.