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Nonstop flight from Utah to Tokyo begins

Published: 06/03/2009
SALT LAKE CITY -- A nonstop flight from Tokyo is making its way to Salt Lake City. The 12-hour flight is the first in a new service from Delta Air Lines.

It is the first time Salt Lake City will see an Airbus 330 jet on a regular basis and the first trans-Pacific service in the intermountain region. The flight will run five times a week.

"Tourism, business opportunities. There's a huge ripple effect for any flight but particularly an international flight at this level," said Salt Lake International Airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann.

She says the flight, passengers and some dignitaries on board will be greeted by a water cannon salute.

The flight will return to Narita Airport in Tokyo, with Utah officials on a trade and tourism mission, Wednesday afternoon.

The addition of this flight is important for Utah business. As soon as business leaders arrive in Tokyo, they will attend a meet-and-greet with their counterparts in Japan.

"So they know exactly what they can do to benefit each other," said Jason Perry, director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

Perry also says business leaders will be touting Utah ski and golf vacation options. There are some times in the year visitors can do both in Utah. Business leaders say the advantage to golf in Utah is that it is cheap and easy to get on a course, compared to some other places.

Officials also hope the new flight will provide a big boost to the ski industry. Right now, nonstop flights from Tokyo to Canada mean that's where most Japanese skiers are currently going.

Utah's business leaders will also address exports. Salt Lake Chamber executives say Utah has grown its export trade 31 percent in a year. That coincides with a direct flight to Paris that is about a year old.

The Governor's Office of Economic Development estimates the new direct flight service will have an economic impact of more than $90 million and create about 1,100 jobs.

Story compiled with information from Marc Giauque, Andrew Adams and The Associated Press.