The long wait in Sonoma County for an eastbound commercial flight connecting to a major international hub came to an end Friday.
After a brief delay, United Airlines’ first roundtrip flight from Denver to Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport touched down before 12:30 p.m. The new route has been sought for years as way for residents, tourists and business travelers to conveniently connect to destinations across the country and worldwide.
It’s launch has been branded a game-changer for the region.
“It’s a big day, I’m very excited,” said Sonoma County Airport Manager Jon Stout, who has overseen negotiations on an eastbound route for the past eight years. “It’s been a huge ask for a long time. Now let’s celebrate that it’s here.”
The 50-seat Bombardier CRJ 200 regional jet was at capacity when it landed, and those aboard were met out on the tarmac by sunny skies and a Wine Country welcome committee that included airport staff, a member of U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson’s office and a spokeswoman for United.
The flight has already shown strong booking through its first week and that could mean larger planes and a greater number of daily trips to and from Denver, officials said. At present, United has scheduled one daily roundtrip.
“We’re hoping that in six months we’re going to bringing in an Airbus 319,” Cassandra Redd, a United sales manager for the region, said of the potential for the 160-seat aircraft. “We just want to see that the demand is there. It looks encouraging.”
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You can reach Staff Writer Kevin Fixler at 707-521-5336 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @kfixler.
This story originally appeared on PressDemocrat.com, also part of the Sonoma Media Investments news network.