Signs of progress

It’s not a daily flight — yet — but the Grand Valley will finally be connected directly to the West Coast next summer, setting up the opportunity to establish demand for a nonstop daily flight to southern California.

American Airlines has announced it will offer a once-a-week flight on a seasonal basis beginning June 3, just as local tourist destinations prepare for an influx of visitors.

Nonstop service to Los Angeles has been a goal of local business and civic leaders because of its immense economic potential. It’s an important connection for Western Slope business travelers, especially those who do business in Pacific Rim countries. It should also make Colorado Mesa University more appealing to prospective students in southern California. And, as The Sentinel’s Gary Harmon reported in today’s paper, it opens up our growing tourism industry to an international market. Tour companies serving China and Japan, as well as some in Europe, are based in Los Angeles.

The Grand Junction Regional Air Services Task Force made a Los Angeles flight its top priority and they committed to support the flight with $40,000 toward marketing efforts.

Despite the community’s desire for an LA connection, nothing happened until Kip Turner took the helm at the airport. Members of the airport authority were looking for an airport executive who had connections with airlines that serve Western Slope airports. Turner hasn’t disappointed.

He stepped into a challenging position in July and has delivered a new important route, along with a “terminal survival plan” that could keep the building, constructed in 1982, operational for the next 10 to 15 years.

It’s a bit of good news for an airport that has languished, at times, after a tumultuous FBI investigation that forced the exit of the previous director. Hopefully, it’s a harbinger of good things to come.


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