Delta to air its Europe plans soon

Utahns won't have to wait long to discover whether they will be able to hop aboard a direct Delta Air Lines flight from Salt Lake City to Europe.

With various funding mechanisms in place to help Atlanta-based Delta promote such flights, "we plan to have an announcement about new international service from Salt Lake City in the next few weeks," Delta spokesman Anthony Black said Monday.

But Black declined to elaborate.

"Until we make an announcement about specific service to a specific destination from a specific destination at a specific time, there's nothing to announce," he said.

The direct-flights-to-Europe push got a big nudge Friday when the Governor's Office of Economic Development approved a $250,000 grant to encourage Delta to start the flights. Board members said the service would be to Paris but Black would not confirm that Monday. Those funds are conditioned on the airline actually starting the service and the Salt Lake City's Department of Airports providing $1 million -- $655,000 in cash and $345,000 in waived landing fees -- and the Utah Office of Tourism adding $600,000 in in-kind marketing funds.

Documents released by the board on Friday show that Delta selected Salt Lake over 14 other U.S. cities with larger market potential for the flights. The airline is seeking money to promote the new route in order to make it sustainable and profitable, the documents say.

Those documents also indicate that based on Delta estimates, the direct service could boost employment at the Salt Lake City International Airport hub by 1,100 and that the flights would have a $90 million annual economic impact. GOED board members stressed Friday that the flights would boost both tourism and commerce between the two sites. E-mail: