United Airlines will add daily flights from Spokane to San Francisco and Chicago this summer.
The Spokane International Airport flights are among many new routes the carrier announced Monday.
The daily flight to Chicago and twice-daily flights to San Francisco will start June 8.
“Spokane has always been an attractive market. It was just a matter of finding the right aircraft and the right times to fly there,” said Maddie King, a United Airlines spokeswoman. “These two new routes will help give us an opportunity to serve customers from both the West Coast and the East Coast, and provide customers with easier options to connect to Spokane.”
United previous operated daily flights between the two cities and Spokane, but the airline discontinued the Chicago service in 2008 and the San Francisco service in 2013.
“We’ve been talking to them for years and years about re-instituting those services,” Spokane Airport spokesman Todd Woodard said.
“These are key markets for us,” Woodard said. “It’s really important, not only for people in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene region to get to their destinations, and clients and customers, and leisure travel, but it’s also important for the outside world to reach our market as well.”
He also said “it’s a pretty big deal” for Spokane passengers to be able to connect with two major hubs serving much of the world. Chicago is a key connection to flights to Europe and Central America, and San Francisco is a gateway to destinations around the Pacific. United also announced Monday it will add a summer route between San Francisco and Munich for the first time.
Demand for direct flights from Spokane to the Bay Area is significant, and the new service will help Spokane develop ties with the high-tech sector in the Bay Area, Woodard said.
The fastest-growing destination for Spokane travelers is the northeastern U.S., and feeding that eastbound traffic is important, Woodard said.
Southwest offers summer-only direct flight to Chicago, and those planes are over 90 percent full, he said.
United currently offers two daily flights between Denver and Spokane.
The airline ended direct service between Spokane and Chicago in November 2008 in response to high fuel prices and a softening economy. That service had dated to 1979.
United cut its service to San Francisco in spring 2013, citing higher fuel prices and efforts to gain efficiencies.
United and its predecessor airlines have served Spokane since 1929.