Thirty percent of the passengers on a recently inaugurated United Airlines daily flight from San Francisco this winter were first-time visitors to Sun Valley, indicating that the new flight is bringing more business to the area.
The figure was part of data compiled by the nonprofit Fly Sun Valley Alliance through a 2014 winter air passenger survey. The survey interviewed 962 outbound passengers at Friedman Memorial Airport between Dec. 27 and April 6.
Thirty-seven percent of visiting passengers were on Delta Connection flights to Salt Lake City, 25 percent on Alaska Airlines flights to Seattle, 22 percent on Alaska Airlines flights to Los Angeles and 16 percent on United flights to San Francisco.
According to a news release from the organization, the approximately 1,000 first-time visitors who arrived from San Francisco last winter spent an estimated $1.3 million in the area.
“This shows that our collective air service development efforts are working,” said Eric Seder, the organization’s board president. “More flights do bring more business and it is exciting to begin to catch up with our competitors in terms of offering easier air service access to and from our community.”
The survey data show that 23 percent of passengers on all flights were first-time visitors, 38 percent were repeat visitors, 21 percent were full-time local residents and 18 percent were part-time local residents.
Fifty percent of visitors said they traveled here to go skiing or snowboarding, 24 percent to visit friends or relatives, 14 percent on business and 9 percent for a special event.
Top points of embarkation for visitors were Seattle with about 23 percent of visiting passengers, Los Angeles with about 17 percent and San Francisco with about 9 percent.
Seventy-five percent of visitors said they would definitely or probably return within the next three winters.
Enplanements at the airport this past winter were up 16 percent, due to increased access and a 28 percent increase in seat capacity. The increased seat capacity was due primarily to the new United nonstop San Francisco flight, as well as an expanded season for Alaska Airlines’ flights to Seattle and Los Angeles, and larger capacity Delta regional jets, which replaced its smaller, turboprop planes in January.
United will inaugurate a nonstop daily flight between Sun Valley and Denver beginning July 2.
Complete survey details can be found at www.flysunvalleyalliance.com and www.iflysun.com.