United Airlines adding Detroit-San Francisco flights

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Flights to San Francisco out of Detroit Metropolitan Airport next summer will have some competition that may lower fares.

Airport officials announced Tuesday that for the first time in more than 25 years, United Airlines will be providing daily nonstop flights to the northern California city starting June 8, going up against Delta Air Lines, which has been the only airline to provide nonstop service between the two cities.

According to airport officials by way of the International Air Transport Association, the San Francisco market was the largest without at least a second airline service of nonstop flights from Metro Airport.

“Ensuring our community has excellent access to air service in our top markets has been a priority for our team,” said Thomas Naughton, CEO of Wayne County Airport Authority. “The addition of United’s new service to San Francisco is a tribute to the rising strength of our economy and our team’s hard work and diligence in addressing the growing demand for air service here in our region.”

The first flight in June would depart at 5:30 p.m. EST and arrive in San Francisco at 7:50 p.m. PST. Another flight would leave San Francisco at 8:30 a.m. PST and arrive in Detroit at 4:20 p.m. EST, officials said.

“We want to make United Airlines the preferred airline for our customers in Detroit,” said Annette Zappala, director of sales for United, in a statement. “United’s new flight to San Francisco will provide business and leisure travelers with convenient access to the Bay Area and easy connection opportunities to business centers throughout Asia.”

The news is welcomed at Metro Airport, which has seen an explosion of growth this year and last, and is on pace to reach close to its peak annual passenger traffic. Last year, Metro Airport saw 33.4 million passengers come through its gates, up from roughly 32 million each for five years prior.

Airport officials have been growing new routes and more competition to ultimately lower fares. Frontier Airlines added seasonal flights to Fort Myers, Florida, and Phoenix, while Spirit Airlines is providing nonstop flights to Baltimore and Philadelphia. Southwest Airlines announced in recent months it will resume weekend Orlando service in early 2017.

Joe Cambron, the airport’s director of air service development who had been working on expanding the San Francisco service, said officials have been seeing an increase in “expanding ties” between Detroit’s automotive engineering base and the technology centers in the Bay Area.

“This trend toward great integration of technology and manufacturing is increasing the need for additional service between the Motor City and Silicon Valley,” he said.


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