Delta Airlines is launching a new nonstop daily flight from Tampa International Airport to Salt Lake City starting Dec. 21.
Salt Lake City has been a coveted route that Tampa airport officials have been trying to bring back to the market for years. Four months ago, airport officials listed Salt Lake City as one of nine top markets they planned to target for new service. Service to Salt Lake City from Tampa was eliminated years ago when Delta downsized its hub operations in Utah.
Tampa launched a new service on United Airlines to San Francisco last month, finally connecting Tampa Bay entrepreneurs to the tech capital of the world in Silicon Valley. The Tampa-to-San Francisco route has also been viewed as a top airport priority given that nearly 200 people pass through Tampa's terminals daily en route to the Golden Gate city, airport officials have said. In addition to Salt Lake City, San Diego and Portland are next up on the list of top domestic routes airport officials hope to add to Tampa.
Salt Lake City has been one among the airport's most underserved domestic markets for years, airport CEO Joe Lopano said after Monday's announcement. This new route adds another destination to the Western United States., and offers access to Utah's ski, arts and nature tourism destinations. Airport officials have said in the past that many Tampa Bay residents also own real estate in the Salt Lake City market, which has increased the demand for the revival of the flight.
"We added Seattle and then San Francisco and now Salt Lake City," Lopano said in a telephone interview. "It's very difficult to get that first route, but once you start adding routes, people start noticing. Our strategy is working. Tampa just added three (Western) destinations. Airlines have taken notice of our growing market."
Passenger traffic at the Tampa airport has been on an upward trajectory for more than five years in a row, and officials anticipate serving 19.5 million passengers this fiscal year, which would set a new record. Last year the airport served 18.9 million passengers and in 2015, 18.5 million travelers.
The nonstop daily year-round flights will begin Dec. 21 on a Boeing 737, departing for Salt Lake City at 7 a.m. and arriving at 9:41 a.m. Service from Salt Lake City to Tampa will depart at 5:15 p.m. and arrive at 11:41 p.m. Delta also offers nonstop flights from Tampa to Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston and Cancun, Mexico.
Flight prices had not been posted as of Monday afternoon. But there will be a clear savings in time.
Currently flights from Tampa to Salt Lake City can take upward of six or seven hours with connections in places like Denver, Houston or Dallas-Fort Worth.
"Delta has a decades-long history of serving Tampa customers and we're excited to add nonstop service to our Salt Lake City hub, where they can experience the great outdoor recreation and business-friendly environment Utah is known for," said Joe Esposito, Delta's vice president of network planning in the Americas. "Customers will also have easy, one-stop access to dozens of other destinations in the western U.S."
Contact Justine Griffin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.