Central Oregon residents are getting another direct flight to Los Angeles in 2018, just in time for summer.

United Airlines announced Tuesday that it will add a direct daily flight from Redmond Airport to Los Angeles International Airport, beginning on April 9. The flight will become the region’s second direct route to Los Angeles, competing with American Airlines’ daily flight to LAX.

“We remain focused on building the best domestic network, and new service to Redmond is a part of this renewed focus to offer a comprehensive and competitive network,” Jonathan Guerin, spokesman for United, wrote in an email.

Guerin wrote that the new flight will build on the airline’s existing network from Redmond to San Francisco and Denver, giving United customers in Central Oregon another large hub to reach other destinations.

Trina Froehlich, Eugene-based senior consultant for Mead & Hunt, which offers air service consulting services nationally, added that having a second flight to an existing destination offers travelers a chance to take their preferred airline to Southern California.

“It gives people another option when they’re traveling to the LA basin,” Froehlich said.

The daily flight will depart from Los Angeles at 3:22 p.m. and land in Redmond at 5:42 p.m., according to Guerin. The return flight leaves Redmond at 6:12 p.m. and lands at LAX at 8:06 p.m.

Zachary Bass, Redmond Airport director, added that United will use a 50-seat CRJ-200 aircraft to fly from Los Angeles to Redmond, smaller than the approximately 75-seat plane American Airlines currently uses for the route.

Establishing a nonstop flight from Central Oregon to Southern California has been a challenge in the past. Horizon Air, which began offering nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Redmond Airport in 2006, canceled the route in 2010, leaving Central Oregon without direct service to California’s largest city, according to The Bulletin’s archives.

American Airlines began offering daily flights to LAX in 2013, after Central Oregon residents bought $350,000 in prepaid tickets in exchange for a two-year commitment from the airline. The route was canceled in the fall of 2015 for around three months, but has run daily since December of that year, according to Bass.

“The service has been doing well,” Froehlich added.

Froehlich, a member of the Central Oregon Air Service Team, a collection of volunteers who help attract flights to the region, said the American Airlines flight from LAX to Redmond has averaged around 77 percent full over the last 12 months where data is available.

During August, consistently one of Redmond Airport’s busiest months, the daily flight was 84 percent full, on average, according to Froehlich. While Froehlich said airlines typically look for routes that average around 85 percent of capacity before expanding, she added that the ticket prices were high enough for United to consider adding the route.

While the airport frequently seeks and receives federal grants designed to attract flights to smaller airports, Bass said no such grant was necessary to secure this flight. Once the airport establishes a new destination, Bass said there’s typically enough data to convince other airlines to adopt the flight.

“It shows the other airlines that this is a needed route,” Bass said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7818, shamway@bendbulletin.com

18805880