United Airlines is going to launch new nonstop air service from Dayton to Denver this fall, restoring a travel destination that the local airport had offered for many years.
The new service to the Mile High City will be the farthest-flying direct flight out of the Dayton International Airport.
The flight will be offered daily, departing Dayton at 9 a.m.
Airport officials said this will provide direct air travel between the Birthplace of Aviation and the American West, connecting the Dayton region to many other U.S. and international destinations.
“Our mission is to connect southwest Ohio to the rest of the world, and this new announcement is just going to live up to that,” said Gil Turner, Dayton’s director of aviation.
United Airlines also plans to significantly expand its air service capacity at the Dayton International Airport this year.
“Unlike other carriers that serve the Dayton area, United’s actually expanding our presence here in Dayton,” said Steve Ross, managing director of central and Canada sales for United Airlines. “You’ll see that over the next several months.”
The new Denver flight will start daily on Sept. 29, officials announced on Tuesday. The flight will have 12 first-class seats, 16 economy-plus seats and 48 standard economy seats.
Dayton used to have multiple flights to Denver.
Frontier offered two daily nonstop flights to Colorado’s largest city from 2005 until 2013, at which time the airline discontinued all air service at the Dayton airport.
Frontier pulled out of the Dayton airport a year after Southwest Airlines purchased AirTran and the company decided to launch daily round-trip service from Dayton to Denver.
Southwest several years later stopped local air service to Denver and other markets and then fully withdrew from the Dayton airport.
United Express, a subsidiary of United Airlines, also used to have a daily nonstop flight to Denver. United Airlines suspended its Denver flight in 2020, during COVID.
United Airlines currently has flights out of Dayton to Chicago and Washington, D.C.
With the addition of the Denver service, local travelers will be able to access three United hubs, which opens up “a world of connection possibilities,” said Ross, with the airlines.
Denver is United’s largest connecting hub, with links to 150 destinations, he said.
Next month, United Airlines will start flying larger aircraft at the Dayton airport, Ross said, and later this year the airlines will have more than double the capacity that it had a year ago at the local aviation facility.
“There will be more seats going to Chicago, more comfortable aircraft,” he said, adding that the 50-seat planes will be replaced with 76-seat planes that have first-class cabins and economy-plus seats. United Airlines this fall will have 15% more capacity at the Dayton airport than it did pre-COVID.
The new Denver flight will be the second new local air service added this year.
Avelo Airlines began twice weekly service from Dayton to Orlando in mid-January.
Businesses like CareSource — which is one of the largest employers in Dayton — need more direct flights in Dayton, said Jenny Michael, CEO of the CareSource Foundation and senior vice president of advocacy, communications and marketing at Caresource.
CareSource, which is headquartered in Dayton, has employees in 47 states, and improving local flight options would help the organization grow and bring in clients, employees and potential investors from all over the nation, Michael said.
“We hope that today’s announcement is just the start, because we need more direct flights, more competitively priced flights here in the Dayton area,” she said on Tuesday.
The Dayton International Airport is essential to business operations in the Dayton area, and a direct flight from the Gem City to Denver will provide a key route for local business travelers who are headed to the Mile High City and locations that are farther west, said Chris Kershner, president and CEO of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.
The new Denver flight was made possible by the JobsOhio Commercial Air Service Restoration Program, which provides incentives to airlines to restart or retain air service.
Terry Slaybaugh, vice president of infrastructure and sites with JobsOhio, said the program has successfully resulted in 29 agreements with airlines to restore or expand air service in the state, which added more than 500,000 seats.
“When you get to Denver, you can go anywhere you want to go — southwest, west and international service,” said Slaybaugh, who used to be Dayton’s aviation director.