Friday, August 23, 2013

Contract inked for nonstop United flights

United Express connection will use regional jets


By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer

    Sun Valley Resort and the nonprofit Fly Sun Valley Alliance announced today that United Airlines in December will begin daily, nonstop winter and summer flights between San Francisco and Friedman Memorial Airport.
    The once-per-day United Express flights—which will be operated for United by SkyWest Airlines—will use Canadair CRJ 700 regional jets with 66 seats. The service between Friedman and San Francisco International Airport will run daily from Dec. 12 through March 30 for the 2013-14 winter season and from July 2 through Sept. 23 for the 2014 summer season. The flights will offer seats in first class, United Economy Plus and United Economy.
    Jack Sibbach, marketing and public relations director for Sun Valley Resort, said the new connection will not only make it easier for people to travel to and from Sun Valley, it will have a positive economic benefit for the entire Wood River Valley community.
    “This is the best economic news we’ve heard in seven or eight years,” he said.
    Carol Waller, director of Fly Sun Valley Alliance, agreed. She said the new flights could bring to the Wood River Valley some 6,000 visitors who could collectively have a $10 million economic impact.
    Pursuant to the one-year contract, the United flights for the upcoming winter ski season will be:

  • Departs SFO at 10:40 a.m. and arrives SUN at 1:22 p.m.
  • Departs SUN at 1:57 p.m. and arrives SFO at 2:54 p.m.

    The flights have been loaded into United's computer system and can be searched at www.united.com.
    The contract includes minimum revenue guarantees for United, which provide for payments to the air carrier if an established revenue threshold is not met during the duration of the contract. Sibbach declined to disclose the amount of the minimum revenue guarantee.
    Rick Baird, manager of Friedman Memorial Airport, said it has been more than 20 years since a new air carrier offered regular service to and from the Wood River Valley. The importance of the San Francisco market, in addition to the large number of domestic and international connections available through SFO, will benefit people throughout the community, he said.
    “This is going to be huge for locals, huge for second-home owners, and huge for business,” he said.
    Baird said the cooperative effort to secure the contract for the flights started in earnest after he and the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority worked in 2012 with the Federal Aviation Administration to get approval for regional jets to fly into Friedman.


Greg Foley: gfoley@mtexpress.com




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