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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Delta will offer direct flights to L.A. from Spokane

Sen. Maria Cantwell talks to the crowd gathered to hear the announcement of daily flights between Spokane and Los Angeles on Tuesday at the Davenport Hotel. Cantwell helped procure a federal grant that will subsidize the service. (Jesse Tinsley)

Nonstop service to Los Angeles is returning to Spokane International Airport.

Delta Air Lines officials Tuesday announced that the airline will begin direct service to LAX starting June 10.

The daily flights will depart from Spokane International Airport at 6:45 a.m. aboard a Bombardier CRJ-900 jet with 76 seats, arriving in Los Angeles at 9:20 a.m.

Return service will leave LAX at 7:50 p.m., arriving in Spokane at 10:25 p.m. using the same type of plane.

“We think this has real opportunity,” said Jeff Davidman, director of government affairs for Delta, who came to Spokane from Minneapolis for the announcement.

“We think it’s the right size aircraft,” he said.

The announcement came during a reception attended by more than 100 people in the Marie Antoinette Room at the Davenport Hotel.

“I’m so excited,” David Holmes, chairman of the Spokane Airport Board, told the gathering.

He said it will be important for people in Spokane to make use of the service to ensure that it continues in future years.

The planes will have first-class and coach service and will be equipped with Wi-Fi service.

Also on hand for the announcement was U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who said Spokane is currently the largest city in the U.S. without direct service to Los Angeles.

She said the new route adds to the economic growth potential represented by the airport and aviation industry, and also should bring new tourism to the region.

Opening a direct flight from Spokane to Los Angeles has been a goal of community and business leaders for the past several years because of convenience and time savings.

Spokane lost direct connection to Los Angeles in 2008, when ExpressJet stopped serving Spokane.

More than 300 people a day fly from Spokane to Los Angeles passing through other airports, according to airport figures. The new service will make it possible for business travelers to make the trip and have plenty of time for meetings and other work the same day.

The new service is made possible through a federal Small Community Air Service Development Grant awarded to the Spokane airport in 2011.

The grant provides up to $900,000 in federal aviation funds combined with $200,000 in locally raised funds, said Larry Krauter, airport director and CEO.

The money can be spent to subsidize any operating losses for the first year of service, which works as an incentive for the airline. Grant funds can also go toward marketing the new route.

“It basically de-risks the investment on the route,” Krauter said.