Richmond launches nonstop service to Denver
Good things come to those who wait.
That was the case, anyhow, for the Richmond International Airport (RIC), which in April launched a direct United Airlines flight to Denver.
“If I go back to communications with United, I can track solid mentions of requests and considerations of this route to at least 2003, so more than a decade,” says Troy Bell, the airport’s spokesman.
According to the airport, Denver is the 11th most popular destination from RIC. More than 60,000 passengers travel between the two cities each year.
“United’s new daily service to Denver provides our customers from throughout Virginia’s Capital Region with convenient access to another major economic center and home to one of our largest hub airports,” Kellie Clough, United’s sales manager in Richmond, said in a statement when the flight was launched.
The new flight is welcome news for the Greater Richmond Partnership (GRP), which takes almost 200 flights per year out of the Richmond airport. The organization helps companies interested in locating or expanding in the Richmond area. It now is able to meet with more prospective companies and consultants than before.
“I think this is particularly big, not just because it goes to Denver … this is big because Denver gives us access to the whole Western half of the United States,” says Barry Matherly, GRP’s president and CEO.
About 35 percent of GRP’s prospective companies are from the U.S., and almost half of those firms are from the West, Matherly says.
United spokeswoman Mary Clark says it’s too early to assess the flight’s performance, but the company is “satisfied with the response so far.” For competitive reasons, she was unable to provide specific passenger loads.
RIC spokesman Bell also is mum on specific passenger numbers but says the flight “appears off to a very good start.”
The airport used a $750,000 Department of Transportation grant to help reduce the airline’s risk in establishing the route plus $150,000 in funds from local jurisdictions. The Capital Region Airport Commission also contributed $85,000 in marketing and in-kind donations.
RIC now has 20 direct flights. It served 3.5 million passengers in 2015, up 4.79 percent from the previous year.