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Utah Valley mayor: Give the entire community a ride by flying to Provo | News, Sports, Jobs

Courtesy of Provo City

Mayor of Provo, Michelle Kaufusi

Provo has had an airport for as long as anyone can remember. It was built in the 1940s when the military wanted to ensure the entire continent was equipped with a network of runways. Commercial flights soon followed, first in the 1950s by Bonanza Airlines. But the long-awaited grand prize was the landing of a major network airline – such as Delta, American or United – at the airport.

Now that day has come. On April 11th of this year, American Airlines announced that it would be coming to Provo. The first flights will start on October 7th.

That's a big deal. By some measures, American Airlines is the largest airline in the world, serving 42 more destinations than Delta Airlines, including 228 domestic destinations.

You may have heard me announce about a year and a half ago that Provo Airport was looking to gain international access. With American Airlines, we're going to get there. American Airlines flies to 109 countries, from Anguilla to Zimbabwe. To give just one example, you can fly with American to seven airports in New Zealand alone.

Go online and try American's website – you can book tickets to or from Provo today. Or use Google Flights. That's right, for the first time in history, Provo Airport (PVU) is also an option on Google Flights. And don't forget, we accept arrivals too, so if you have friends or family visiting, be sure to tell them to look for flights to Provo.

Don't get me wrong. We love our two current airlines, Allegiant and Breeze, and hope they will continue to fly to Provo for decades to come. They play an important role, providing value to hundreds of thousands of Utah County passengers each year, and we value their partnership immensely. But a network airline uniquely opens Provo to the world and the world to Provo.

Why does all this matter to an ordinary resident of this valley? Well, of course it means additional comfort and more opportunities (and very often money savings), whether by welcoming visitors or by flying one's own way.

But it's more than that. Our airport will help anchor this fast-growing valley as it potentially surpasses the population of the Salt Lake Valley. The Provo airport brings a sense of independence and status to our region as we prepare for continued growth and welcome more people from around the world to this special place, including for the possible 2034 Olympics.

And then there are the dollars and cents. Increased travel helps fund the services you receive from your county and city, even if you live in a city other than Provo. The services you and I receive from our local governments – parks, fire, water in our homes – obviously require money, and that money usually comes out of residents' pockets in the form of taxes and fees. But when visitors come to your city and pay sales and other taxes, the result is an increase in local government dollars that come out of their pockets, not yours.

This is one of the reasons why virtually every mayor I know is concerned about the economic strength of their city and wants to make it attractive to outsiders. Without these components, there seems to be no other way to raise money than to raise property taxes, and virtually no mayor or resident likes that!

Finally, I'd like to talk about the flying experience in Provo. Compared to flying out of a major airport, Provo is a dream. The terminal is inviting, and its brick interior reflects the warmth and charm of historic downtown Provo. While there are good restaurants and shops where you can buy essentials, there are no huge hallways, escalators, or mazes to navigate. Everything you need is just a few hundred feet away. Passengers rave about being able to be in the car and on your way home within minutes of landing.

So for your own sake and the sake of all of us in this area, consider Provo Airport in all your flight plans – and spread the word. If you have elite status with Delta, contact American to adjust your status while you try with them.

Together, we can improve the quality of life for everyone in our community by helping Provo Airport achieve its breakthrough.

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Anna Harden

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