United Airlines to launch summer L.A. link | AspenTimes.com

United Airlines to launch summer L.A. link

Janet Urquhart
Travelers will have a new connection to and from the West Coast this summer, when United launches direct service between Aspen and Los Angeles. (Aspen Times file)

United Airlines, facing new competition from Delta, will offer direct service between Aspen and Los Angeles this summer.

The weekend flights are a first for United, which has long offered one daily connection between Aspen and L.A. during the winter season, but never a summer link.

The airline, which also offers flights between Aspen and Denver, will offer nonstop connections between Aspen and the West Coast on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, starting June 9 and continuing through Sept. 3, it announced Tuesday.

The introduction comes on the heels of Delta Air Lines’ announcement earlier this month that it will launch new jet service between Aspen and its Salt Lake City hub this summer. That service offers new options for travelers, including those seeking a West Coast connection.

United’s Explus service from L.A. will leave at 6:05 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, arriving in Aspen at 9:13 p.m. Westbound flights will depart Aspen at 8 p.m. Fridays and Sundays, arriving in L.A. at 9:12 p.m. An additional departure at 7:30 a.m. Sundays will arrive in L.A. at 8:42 a.m.

Next month, United will launch its Explus service in Aspen, operated by SkyWest, replacing the United Express service it currently offers through an operating agreement with Air Wisconsin.

SkyWest will fly the CRJ-700 regional jet for the Explus service. The availability of the jet facilitates the new L.A. service by United, according to Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a local reservations agency, and the resort’s liaison to the airlines. United’s current service to Aspen uses a limited fleet of Bae-146s. The aging jets handle both the Aspen/Denver connection and the winter flights between Aspen and L.A.

“It’s something United has looked at in the past, but they just didn’t have the resources,” Tomcich said in reference to a summer connection to L.A.

The weekend schedule ” peak local travel days ” is “absolutely perfect,” he said.

In addition to service from United and Delta, America West will offer a connection between Aspen and Phoenix this summer. America West offers the flight during the winter and will continue the service straight through the spring off-season this year, according to Tomcich.

Northwest Airlines, which has sometimes offered a summertime connection between Aspen and Minneapolis, won’t do so this year, but Tomcich called the summer service schedule a strong one anyway.

“When you add it all together, it’s definitely the strongest schedule of summer flights we’ve ever had,” he said.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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