By Hannah Welzbacker, MagicValley.com
TWIN FALLS — Greeted by a cascading arch of water, the Twin Falls airport’s first flight from Denver landed Wednesday afternoon. The water salute is an aviation tradition involving two firefighting rigs spraying water over a new arriving airline service.
The flight will now be a daily occurrence at Joslin Field, Magic Valley Regional Airport, south of town.
Following the safe arrival, local officials spoke about how the flight will promote regional tourism and make traveling more convenient. The terminal was bustling with music, airport mugs and cupcakes.
“United Airlines, welcome to Magic Valley,” airport Manager Bill Carberry said to a full room of applauding airline personnel, city officials and community members.
United Airlines operated in the Magic Valley when the airport first opened on May 1, 1948, Carberry said. United left sometime in the 1960s.
“The United airplane over my shoulder is not here because we have a nice airport or a handsome airport manager,” Carberry said to laughter. “United is here to serve a community that has built itself, is growing and vibrant.”
People are ready to visit family members as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to lift, Mayor Suzanne Hawkins said. Residents can fly to more than 200 cities out of Denver.
Twin Falls County Commissioner Jack Johnson said it is important to acknowledge the economic impact this flight brings to the community.
Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Shawn Barigar looks forward to the future of the Magic Valley airport.
“The success of this service depends on each one of us,” Barigar said. “As we make our travel plans, make those plans leaving from Twin Falls and returning here.”
SkyWest and United officials are happy with the start-up of the service, he said. Although some seats were empty on both arriving and departing flights today, there is a large marketing plan underway targeting Magic Valley and Denver residents.
United Airlines official Mike S’Dao said if passengers took one of the empty seats today, they could be around the world by this evening.
“If anybody wants to go for Mai Tai’s in Honolulu tonight,” S’Dao said, “I think we still got time.”
The new flight is possible because of a U.S. Department of Transportation grant the airport won last February. The $900,000 grant protects SkyWest Airlines — the company that is servicing the flight for United — from losing any money during early operations.
The arriving flight from Denver will land every day at 1:45 p.m. at the Twin Falls airport, while the departing flight lands at 4 p.m. at Denver International Airport.