Direct Flights to LA Scheduled for Holiday Season

By Beacon Staff

Delta Airlines has scheduled a two-week trial run of direct flights from Los Angeles to Glacier Park International Airport slated for this holiday season, which could lead to more flights into the Flathead Valley in the future.

The direct flights to LAX are set to run from Dec. 21 to Jan. 5, 2014. The routes have been published and the tickets are for sale.

According to GPIA director Cindi Martin, the flight is an experiment by Delta to test the viability of the route.

“The holidays are a popular time to come in here, as are a couple of times during late winter,” Martin said. “If this flight does well, then the potential to bring the flight back either through the balance of the winter or in the summer is strong.”

The obvious tourism peak for Northwest Montana is in the summer, but winter still attracts flights during the holidays and early in the year for skiing, Martin said.

Kevin Gartland, executive director at the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce, said the two-week trial run comes at a very busy time in the Flathead, and more flights are always appreciated.

“We’re hoping this will turn into something more permanent down the road,” Gartland said.

LA has the potential to be a prime market for the Flathead, he said. There is already interest there, but the lack of flights can be a deterrent for tourists and businesses.

“More is better,” Gartland said. “We’re glad to have the extra service.”

Martin said the airport is pleased that Delta is trying out the route this winter, and that it is up to the market now to determine if such a flight can be successful here. If the airline starts a service but isn’t making money, it will simply take its aircraft elsewhere.

“Getting an airline to start service here is half the battle,” Martin said. “The rest of it is up to the community to support.”

Tickets for the LAX-GPIA direct flight have been published and are for sale for about two weeks. For more information on ticketing prices and availability, visit www.delta.com. For flight information at Glacier Park International Airport, visit www.iflyglacier.com.

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