An American Airlines daily nonstop flight between Louisville International Airport (SDF) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) will boost business travel options for multiple regions of Kentucky while helping attract both West Coast and international corporate investment, Gov. Matt Bevin said during an announcement today.
“To recruit business and grow jobs, we must make it easy to get to and from Kentucky as directly and quickly as possible. This new flight by American Airlines adds another great option for people to travel from LAX to Louisville and surrounding communities,” Gov. Bevin said. “Currently, it takes the better part of a day to reach Louisville from Los Angeles, causing an economic development pinch point for much of the Bluegrass State. This new route, built around a business traveler’s schedule, will benefit companies already here in Kentucky and serve as a powerful economic development tool in recruiting additional corporate investment from the West Coast and Asia.”
Gov. Bevin thanked American Airlines and Kentucky’s public and private partners in the Louisville Regional Airlift Development effort (LRAD). That organization, seeded last year with up to $1.33 million in grant funding from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, began offering a funding backstop to airlines bringing new nonstop routes between Louisville and the East and West coasts.
Tickets for the seven-day-a-week nonstop roundtrip flight, which will use a 128-seat Airbus A319, go on sale Nov. 5 and service will begin April 2. The flight is scheduled to depart SDF at 7:24 a.m. and arrive at LAX at 9 a.m. The nonstop return flight is scheduled to depart LAX at 10:55 p.m. and arrive at SDF at 6:02 a.m.
For people – particularly business travelers in Western, Southcentral and Central Kentucky – wishing to access the key West Coast market, the new route provides a fourth nonstop Kentucky-to-LA flight. Currently Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) offers three nonstop flights to LAX.
Dan Mann, executive director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority, said the flight indicates American Airlines executives see the region’s current status and future potential.
“We are ecstatic with American Airlines’ decision to offer service on our largest unserved and most requested route,” Mann said. “Their addition of this transcontinental service along with continued growth of other routes is a testament to their confidence in our market and a shining example of the results of community partnership.”
Luke Schmidt, LRAD project consultant and president of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, credited the organization’s partners and called for additional support.
“The support of our strategic partners has enabled LRAD to develop an effective incentive program, which works in tandem with incentives provided by LRAA to airlines operating new qualifying flights,” Schmidt said. “When it was first formed, LRAD set a goal of establishing new nonstop service from SDF to Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle – the four most underserved (non-nonstop) markets. We’ve secured LAX, but we need to continue to build support for our next three markets, all of which are important business destinations. It is critical to maintain this momentum and we want to build new and additional partnerships with businesses and corporations throughout the region.”
LRAD is a coalition of business and community leaders and organizations, including the state and the Louisville Metro Government, which organized to bring new, nonstop air service to SDF. By pooling funds, LRAD offed airlines a minimum revenue guarantee, effectively a funding backstop to allow time to build sustainable passenger volumes and revenues on new routes to the East and West Coasts. The minimum revenue guarantee from LRAD to American Airlines will be used only if the carrier falls short of its revenue target during the first two years on the SDF-LAX route.
Terry Gill, secretary of the Cabinet for Economic Development, called on companies to further embrace LRAD, saying the new flight validates Kentucky and the greater Louisville region as markets of growing international interest.
“Our Cabinet’s ability to spearhead the state’s involvement in attracting this route to SDF is a point of pride because we recognize the tremendous long-term implications it brings for growing the economies of Louisville, Western, Southcentral and Central Kentucky,” Sec. Gill said. “To continue this success and to help increase access to these growing markets, the business community’s further support of LRAD will be essential.”
Nonstop air service is critically important to ensuring growth among Kentucky’s businesses, education providers and convention and tourism industries. Improved air service will help attract and retain businesses, workforce talent and capital, leading to more rapid growth and job creation.
Kentucky is home to nearly 225 corporate facilities with Asian or Pacific Rim ownership, regions served in significant measure by flights from LAX. Japan dominates the state’s internationally owned facilities, operating 191 manufacturing, service and technology business locations in Kentucky. In total, Japanese-owned companies in Kentucky employ 46,000 people.
As the commonwealth courts additional Japanese investment and charts increasing interest from companies in China, South Korea, Thailand and India, nonstop flights connecting LAX to Kentucky will play all the more vital of a role.
Similarly, Kentucky is home to 220 European-owned facilities, which employ more than 37,000 people. LRAD’s goal of bringing additional East Coast nonstop flights to Louisville will better connect much of Kentucky with key European markets.
For more information on LRAD, visit www.lradinc.com.
Detailed profiles for communities across Kentucky can be viewed here.