Atlanta-to-Reno flights please tourism officials |

Atlanta-to-Reno flights please tourism officials

Susan Wood

Lake Tahoe skiers can expect to hear more of a southern drawl on the slopes this winter, as Delta Airlines pledged to provide nonstop service from Reno to Atlanta, the Washoe County Airport Authority announced Monday.

The link to the East Coast is one that tourism and transportation officials have worked on for more than five years.

Flights will start Dec. 18 with a daily flight departing from Reno at 8:30 a.m. Another arrives in Reno at 9:17 p.m. from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the nation’s busiest hub with more than 900 flights going in and out of it.

“Atlanta is one of the top five destination feeder markets. And the nonstop flight is key to a better connection from Florida,” said John Wagnon, Heavenly Mountain Resort’s vice president of marketing and chairman of Ski Lake Tahoe.

The consortium of six of the largest ski resorts at the lake teamed up with the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority and the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada to seal the deal.

The effort is the latest drive from ski markets to woo travelers. Atlanta is considered a large ski and business market.

“This was absolutely critical. There’s no question about it. It opens up the East Coast. All of a sudden, Florida travelers can fly through Atlanta and get to Reno fairly easily,” South Shore marketer Carl Ribaudo said, speaking for Ski Lake Tahoe.

Florida boasts one of the largest ski clubs in the nation.

The addition will bring the Reno airport to 89 daily flights, which surpasses pre-9/11 standards.

“We’ve never had a market of this potential,” Airport Authority spokesman Brian Kulpin said.

The latest addition represents a long line of expanded carrier service the Northern Nevada airport has added or hopes to bring to the region.

The latest – Northwest Airlines started offering a Detroit flight in June.

Aloha Airlines’ daily flight out of Reno to and from Honolulu has stayed 72 percent full, Kulpin said.

Airport officials are still working on signing on Jet Blue Airlines, a New York-based carrier that shows as much profit-making potential as Southwest Airlines. Transportation officials would like Southwest to add San Diego to its lineup at Reno.

Southwest accounts for 46 percent of the flights at Reno/Tahoe International Airport.

With the exception of its smaller subsidiary, Skywest, Delta has not served Reno for three years.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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