Non­stop flights from Den­ver to Paris will launch in April

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jesse Paul

Non­stop flights from Den­ver to Paris will be­gin in April.

Den­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port fi­nally has made the French con­nec­tion.

The air­port and city of­fi­cials an­nounced Thurs­day that Nor­we­gian Air will be­gin flying to Paris next year — cap­ping a decades-long quest to con­vince an air­line to com­mit to the route.

The air­line will fly to Charles de Gaulle Air­port in the French cap­i­tal twice a week start­ing April 9, 2018. It’s the fourth in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tion that DIA has added in three months.

On its web­site Thurs­day, Nor­we­gian Air of­fered round-trip fares on the route start­ing at $474 in April 2018 and reach­ing $906 in July.

The Colorado Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion agreed this week to pro­vide $500,000 in cash over the next two years from the state’s strate­gic fund to help the air­line mar­ket the year-round flight.

State eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cials es­ti­mate the new flight will gen­er­ate 350 jobs, $12 mil­lion in new wages and $40 mil­lion in ad­di­tional eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity. About 70 per­cent of the eco­nomic im­pact will come from in­creased tourism to the state.

The air­port says Paris is its largest un­served mar­ket.

“A re­cent sur­vey con­ducted by (DIA) in co­op­er­a­tion with the Rocky Moun­tain French Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce showed that 74 per­cent of those sur­veyed would travel more fre­quently to France if there were non­stop flights be­tween Den­ver and Paris,” the air­port said in a news re­lease.

Den­ver Mayor Michael Han­cock said the new flight “fur­ther el­e­vates Den­ver’s po­si­tion as a global city.”

Air­port of­fi­cials said nearly 200 people a day travel be­tween Den­ver and Paris, rank­ing the French city as Den­ver’s sec­ond­largest mar­ket in Europe be­hind Lon­don. The de­mand for travel be­tween Den­ver and Paris has grown by more than 20 per­cent over the past year and is to­day at all­time highs.

The new ser­vice will op­er­ate twice a week, on Mon­days and Fri­days. The flight is sched­uled to ar­rive in Den­ver at 6:15 p.m. and de­part at 8:15 p.m. Nor­we­gian Air will use a Boe­ing 787-9 Dream­liner to op­er­ate the route. The state-of-the-art air­planes have 344 seats.

“It’s an ex­cit­ing day for Colorado trav­el­ers who, for too long, have faced high fares and limited choices. This new route is a win for all of our cus­tomers,” Thomas Ram­dahl, chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer at Nor­we­gian, said in a news re­lease. “Paris is a very at­trac­tive des­ti­na­tion, for both leisure and busi­ness trav­el­ers alike.”

In April, Nor­we­gian Air an­nounced it would be­gin low-cost flights to Lon­don’s Gatwick Air­port from DIA.

With the ad­di­tion of the Paris flight, there are now 25 in­ter­na­tional des­tina- tions in 11 coun­tries served by DIA.

“Se­cur­ing non­stop flights to Paris has been very high on our pri­or­ity list since I took over as CEO nearly a decade ago and this is a game changer for Den­ver,” DIA’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Kim Day, said in a writ­ten state­ment. “We ex­pect that this new flight will sig­nif­i­cantly stim­u­late the al­ready strong de­mand for travel be­tween Den­ver and Paris, with the hope of in­creased fre­quen­cies in the fu­ture.”

City and air­port of­fi­cials have been mak­ing trips to Paris and of­fer­ing fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives to air­lines in­clud­ing Air France for at least two decades to try to se­cure di­rect flights. The air­port had better luck with other Euro­pean cities over the years, and in 2013 it achieved a mile­stone by adding non­stop ser­vice to Tokyo.

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