Reno-Tahoe International Airport has signed a deal with a British airline to add twice-weekly nonstop flights between Reno and London, starting the week before Christmas, Reno officials have announced.
The planned flights on Thomas Cook Airlines represent an economic boost for the Reno and Tahoe ski and gambling industries, which have struggled since the beginning of the recession in 2007.
Airport officials say they are working with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for final approvals for international landing rights. If approved, the London flights are expected to begin Dec. 19.
The flights are scheduled for Wednesdays and Saturdays for the next two winters, from mid-December to early April. If the flights draw enough passengers, the airport and airline expect to extend the deal, said Brian Kulpin, vice president of marketing and public affairs for the Reno airport.
The London flight announcement comes less than a month after the Reno airport signed a deal with Volaris Airlines for nonstop service to Guadalajara, Mexico, starting Dec. 16.
“This is a huge step for us in just one month, a huge deal for this community,” Kulpin said. “Our community was hit hard by the recession.”
Thomas Cook Airlines, a holiday charter service, has been expanding to more regular commercial flights. Airport officials met with Cook a month ago, pitching the Reno area as a place where British travelers can ski during the day and gamble at night.
The Airbus 320 flights will land at Gatwick Airport outside of London. The plane carries 322 passengers.
The Reno airport is the 65th busiest commercial airport in the country, carrying 3.5 million passengers per year.
Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059.