Iceland and Denver: Love at first flight

9:54 AM, Sep 14, 2011   |    comments
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The new service will connect Denver with more than 20 destinations throughout Scandinavia, United Kingdom and Europe and is expected to bring in $28 million in annual revenue to the city.

Even with daily flights to London via British Airways and Frankfurt via Lufthansa Airlines, Denver has been underserved in transatlantic access. The new air service is expected to bring nearly 300 jobs to Colorado, including 33 direct jobs, generating an estimated $9 million in wages and more than $19 million in tourism spending.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was on hand at DIA for the announcement.

"I'm looking forward to the relationship between the City and County of Denver and Icelandair and will personally welcome the first flight from Reykjavik," Hancock said. "This flight will allow us to continue to bring new global opportunities to our state and to stimulate growth in our economy."

The Icelanders are excited too.

"We were thrilled to choose Denver from a short-list of potential new gateway cities, as we feel it is a natural fit for Icelandair. Denverites will love the nature, lifestyle and culture of Iceland, while Icelanders will feel at home with the landscape, active lifestyle and independent philosophy in Denver," said Birkir Holm Gudnasson, CEO of Icelandair.

DIA is the fifth-busiest airport in the country, serving connections to more than 160 destinations worldwide. DIA has not had a transatlantic carrier initiate nonstop service in over 10 years.

"DIA is Colorado's gateway to the world, and a $22-billion economic engine for the state," said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

Beginning May 11, 2012, Icelandair will operate four nonstop flights per week from DIA. The airline's fleet of Boeing 757 aircraft will provide convenient access to Europe through its Reykjavik hub at Keflavik International Airport. The route will give travelers direct access to Iceland as well as connection availability to London, Paris, Munich, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Manchester and Glasgow, among other cities.

In addition to the new traveling options that Colorado travelers will have, the connection will also provide Colorado with increased tourism from Scandinavians and Europeans.

"A new nonstop, transatlantic flight is a huge selling factor for Denver," Visit Colorado CEO Richard Scharf said.

Denver financial analysts are especially excited about the move.

"We always believed that a third [international] carrier out of Denver could serve northern Europe and Scandinavia, where business synergies have increased over the last several years. The addition of Icelandair as our newest carrier affirms the confidence that northern Europe has in the metro Denver and Colorado markets," Tom Clark, Executive Vice President of Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, said.

Leonardo Wolfson contributed to this report.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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