Feb. 19--FARMINGTON -- The Four Corners Regional Airport will offer $99 flights to Las Vegas, Nev., beginning April 7, making it the only airport in the Four Corners area to offer direct flights to Sin City.
Great Lakes Airlines will offer one daily round-trip flight to McCarran International Airport Las Vegas, the city of Farmington announced Thursday. The flights, costing $99 each way, will include a brief stop in Kingman, Ariz.
A 6:30 a.m. flight will depart daily from Farmington to Las Vegas. From Las Vegas to Farmington, a flight will return daily at 5:30 p.m., allowing flexibility for tourism and business travel.
"This is a really good opportunity for Farmington as well as the entire Four Corners region because this will be by far the cheapest and most convenient way to fly to Las Vegas from anywhere in the Four Corners region," Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes said.
The cheapest one-stop flight to Las Vegas from Albuquerque on April 7, a Wednesday, was $88 on three airlines, according to orbitz.com on Thursday night. However, prices are higher on other days, Albuquerque is a three-hour drive from Farmington, and there were no non-stop flights from Albuquerque to Las Vegas.
Mayes and Rod Hunt, the city's General Services director, have worked for two years trying to secure service to and from Las Vegas.
Mayes explained that city officials did not necessarily value Las Vegas flights over those to other places, but they
feel Las Vegas will present a unique destination for the airport compared with location access other nearby airports offer.
A Great Lakes spokeswoman did not immediately return phone calls Thursday night. Great Lakes was trying to secure airport space in Las Vegas to provide flights there from cities in Arizona, California and Nevada, the airline spokeswoman previously said. The airline had a contract with the federal government to serve those cities and was considering including Farmington.
Flights to Las Vegas do not require parking charges nor baggage fees: One carry-on bag is allowed and two bags can be checked for free. Passengers stop once in Kingman, remaining on the same plane for about 15 minutes before continuing to Las Vegas. Flights last 2 hours, 10 minutes, including the intermediate stop.
"You make a nice long weekend of it and not spend the majority of the time on the road or waiting in an airport," Hunt said.
The announcement is a coup for an airport that has seen difficulties and declining passenger boardings. However, the airport still makes 98 cents for every dollar the city spends on it, Hunt said.
Flights to and from Las Vegas will be in addition to Farmington flights to and from Denver, Phoenix and Ontario, Calif., east of Los Angeles.
The city of Farmington doesn't subsidize flights to those destinations and it won't do so for flights to Las Vegas, because it declines to spend taxpayer dollars on airline tickets, Mayes said.
"We continue to work on, wherever possible, the potential for flights to Albuquerque," he said. "But unlike Vegas, we have not been able to get any airline to seriously consider flights to Albuquerque unless we would guarantee large subsidies for the flights."
In addition to tourism and business travel, flights to Las Vegas will offer more choices to connect to other destinations because McCarran is a major hub, city officials said. Phoenix and Denver airports are also major hubs.
"It just opens up the West with another major hub airport, which is fantastic," Hunt said. "But the main object of the flights, of course, is the tourist destination to Las Vegas."
Great Lakes is charging $99 each way through April 8 as an introductory offer, though Mayes said the price is expected to increase afterward only to $109 each way.
Beginning June 17, America West Airlines will offer nonstop daily flights to Las Vegas from Monterey Peninsula Airport, the company announced Monday.
A McCarran spokeswoman said Wednesday that the variation resulted from the airport's ability to obtain updated statistics from airlines.
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