NORTH BEND — Southwest Oregon Regional Airport will again this summer season add a third city to its list of nonstop destinations come June.
United Airlines will resume its twice-weekly summer nonstop service between North Bend and Denver beginning June 11 and lasting until Oct. 4.
The flights are made possible due to a contract with United and Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, as well as a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"We received a $550,000 grant from USDOT to subsidize the Denver route over three years," said Jennifer Groth, the airport public information officer. "Bandon Dunes Golf Resort signed a contract with United Airlines to guarantee the route for that time period [with] up to $1 million."
According to Groth, the grant covered $214,763 for the first year the flights were offered, while Bandon Dunes paid $64,441.
In year two, the grant covered $306,561 and Bandon Dunes paid $91,984.
There is $28,676 left to spend from the USDOT grant for 2017, the third consecutive year United has offered the seasonal flights.
"For local residents, it's an easier, more convenient way to fly east for summer vacations," Groth said. "That can be the challenge of living on the West Coast: it takes a day to get anywhere on the East Coast so this could make that an easier trip. And it obviously helps with the golfers that want to come to our area to utilize Bandon Dunes [Golf Resort]."
Currently, the airport offers flights to Denver through connections via San Francisco and Portland.
Michael Chupka, director of communications for Bandon Dunes, said the new direct flights should help facilitate tourism for Oregon’s South Coast.
“It’s a win-win for all parties. We’ve been seeing momentum as far as number of seats that have been sold over the past two years,” he said. “It’s a great option — not only for Bandon Dunes and the golfers coming in here — but the community in general.
“We’re a little isolated here. It’s part of the charm and part of the struggle. At the same time, there’s always a need to help improve air service into the South Coast and having access now to Denver is great for our golfers.”
According to Groth, the resort's support helps eliminate several challenges that could hamstring flight options for the airport.
"We certainly appreciate their help in maintaining the economic viability of this route," she said.
According to the press release, United will shuttle travelers with a CRJ-700 jet aircraft, which provides passengers with “a full-service cabin and has seating for up to 70 passengers, including six first-class cabin seats.”
As of this week, a roundtrip flight from North Bend to Denver was priced at $470.69, before taxes, according to United’s website.
Flights will operate on Sunday and Wednesday and arrive in North Bend at 1:09 p.m. and depart for Denver at 1:44 p.m.
Tickets are available at www.united.com or by calling 1-800-864-8331.