A single aircraft flew over the Wasatch Mountains Tuesday as the sun set, before circling Utah Lake and touching down on the tarmac of the Provo Airport, marking the first commercial flight into Provo.
BYU students and travelers across Utah County can now save themselves the hour drive to Salt Lake City and fly in and out of the Provo Airport, which began commercial air service provided by Frontier Airlines this week.
The service consists of a daily 8:25 a.m. outbound flight to Denver, a major hub for Frontier, and a return flight back to Provo at 9:15 p.m. From Denver, travelers can connect to 30 destinations across the country.
“It’s a win-win for Denver and Provo,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-UT. “A lot of people do business here.”
The inaugural flight departed Tuesday with a group of elected officials, business leaders and members of the media including Chaffetz, President Cecil O. Samuelson, Gov. Gary Herbert, Provo Mayor John Curtis, members of the Provo Municipal Council and even Cosmo Cougar.
At a news conference before the flight, Curtis was given a model plane by Cliff Van Leuvin, vice president of Customer Service for Frontier, and spoke about the significance of the flight.
“When you have a major airline like Frontier, it puts you on the map,” Curtis said.
The Indianapolis-based Frontier Airlines is currently in its 17th year of operations, and is known for the animals that adorn the tails of its aircraft. The plane used for Provo’s first commercial flight depicted a goose.
The mood on the plane was celebratory, with the passengers applauding both times the plane took off and landed. Many discussed the future of commercial air service in Provo, talking about the influx of passengers that could occur during football season as well as wondering if the MTC would eventually fly missionaries out of the airport.
It’s unsure the extent these flights will affect travel for BYU employees, but President Samuelson said he liked the convenience.
“I flew into Salt Lake City the other day and wished I had flown into Provo,” he said.
In Denver, the group visited the city’s Downtown Aquarium, where Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Bill Vidal spoke, and then toured Coors Field, ballpark for the Colorado Rockies.
“I think connecting Denver and Provo is a great thing for both cities and states,” Hickenlooper said. “Both states share and benefit from working together more.”
Frontier hopes to attract travelers with low fares. Non-stop flights from Salt Lake City to Phoenix, for example, can cost more than $300 one way on most airlines, while Frontier lists fares as low as $165 for a flight from Provo to Phoenix with a layover in Denver.