This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Provo • A large jetliner landing at Provo's airport usually is no big deal. After all, foggy weather occasionally forces Salt Lake City International Airport to reroute flights there.
But when a Frontier Airlines Embraer 190 with room for nearly 100 passengers touched down Monday night, it was greeted by a large banner downtown, firetrucks spraying waterand hordes of dignitaries.
The hoopla wasn't for any visiting celebrity. Rather, it marked Provo's golden-spike moment, its arrival in the world of air transport and the launching of a new era in travel.
You see, Frontier is establishing daily flights between Provo and Denver. The first takes off Tuesday morning, when a group of dignitaries will jet from the Utah County seat, spend the day meeting their counterparts in Colorado's capital and catch a tour of the Rockies' Coors Field before returning home at night.
So how did Provo land Frontier?
The city hired a firm to see how many Utah County residents were flying and where by checking bookings with online travel sites. City officials then started courting airlines. Frontier bit.
The city also worked with MillionAir, a charter airline, to construct a security-screening and gate area for the Frontier flight.
Mayor John Curtis says persuading the Federal Aviation Administration to install air-traffic-control radar at Provo didn't hurt. The radar allows controllers to see what's in the air in Utah County. Previously, planes leaving Provo had to wait for a gap in air traffic above the valley to take off. That's not the best way to earn on-time awards.
What's in it for Provo and its residents?
Well, Provo scores another bragging point, especially as the city and Utah County prepare to open a new convention center in spring 2012.
But the biggest edge: Passengers get to dodge the drive up an often-clogged (and now under-construction) Interstate 15 to Salt Lake City to catch a flight.
"It will add a whole level of convenience to travel," Curtis says.
Joel Racker, president and chief executive of the Utah Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau, sees it as a "game-changer" for Utahns living south of Provo, allowing them to shave an hour or more off a trip to the airport.
That's no small advantage for hurried and sometimes-harried business travelers.
Provo-basedNu Skin Enterprises, which is sponsoring some of the Denver activities for the visiting delegation Tuesday, views the daily flights as a boon to all businesses.
"We definitely see this as a positive move to the economic development of Provo and Utah County," Nu Skin spokeswoman Jordan Karpowitz said.
Racker sees the new service also boosting Sundance, Soldier Hollow and Park City, making it easier for some winter athletes heading to those resorts.
With I-15 being rebuilt and FrontRunner train service coming, Racker adds, Provo and the rest of Utah County will be more accessible than ever.
Denver's a nice place, but what if you want to go somewhere else?
No problem, says Laura Jackson, Denver International Airport's research director. DIA boasts connections to just about anywhere else a flier might want to go from Atlanta to Alaska and beyond.
What about BYU?
Carri Jenkins, spokeswoman for Brigham Young University, says the school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is informing all those who travel on BYU business that they now have another option.
Besides, she notes, Frontier's daily flights arrive in Denver around 10 a.m., giving passengers time to hook up to another flight.
Duff Tittle, BYU's athletic department spokesman, notes some Cougar teams already have been flying out of Provo on charters. Now, some of the teams will see if the daily commercial connection to and from Denver is the way to go.
Is Provo poised to become another Salt Lake City International Airport?
In a word, no. But Curtis wants Provo to become a regional hub, serving Seattle, Long Beach, Calif., and other Western destinations.
Will fliers have to pass through a full-body scanner at Provo?
There will be a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at the airport for commercial flights, but Curtis says no scanners are planned at this time.
Provo's daily Denver connection
Frontier's daily flights leave Provo for Denver at 8:30 a.m. The return trips land in Provo at 9:15 p.m. Prices vary depending on when you book. For more information, go to frontierairlines.com.