Starting June 2, a daily nonstop flight from Hartford to Los Angeles International Airport will open up new possibilities for cargo, Yale students and Gov. Dannel Malloy’s economic plans.
The Connecticut Airport Authority — an organization led by state leaders and charged with expanding flight routes into the state — announced last Wednesday that American Airlines will offer daily nonstop service to LAX from Bradley International Airport, creating the state’s only nonstop flight to the West Coast. The deal with American Airlines comes as part of Malloy’s initiative to increase flight frequency, seating and number of destinations.
“Expanding routes gives businesses the connectivity to grow,” CAA Executive Director Kevin Dillon said. “Healthy transporting to Bradley can also convince others to relocate to the state.”
The state’s business community has been clamoring for these changes to Connecticut flights, Dillon said. The flight to Los Angeles is particularly beneficial because it provides a one-stop route from Hartford to Asia, he added.
Dillon added that the new flight to Los Angeles will also help Bradley Airport enter the international cargo market since planes often carry commercial packages in addition to passenger baggage.
In 2014, the CAA — which Malloy founded in 2011 — increased traffic to Bradley by 8.5 percent by increasing the frequency of service and the size of aircraft to existing domestic destinations. In the past three months, the CAA also announced nonstop services to Dublin and Denver.
The CAA is also considering additional transcontinental flights to San Francisco, Seattle and Phoenix in partnership with airlines already at Bradley, such as Southwest, JetBlue and Delta, Dillon said. Though he could not disclose the names of specific airlines, Dillon added that the CAA is talking with international companies to expand transatlantic offerings.
“This is a competitive business,” Dillon said. “Here in New England we are competing with Boston, New York and Providence [for domestic flights]. But we are actually competing with every airport in the country [for international airlines].”
The service will provide an additional travel option for many Yale undergraduates, almost 700 of whom are from the Golden State. Several students from California said they would take advantage of the nonstop route.
Mackenzye Smith ’18, who flies home to LAX, said many students returning to Yale from the West Coast fly to one of the two main airports in New York to take advantage of nonstop flights, though Bradley is closer to campus. Nonstop flights eliminate the possibility of delays at layover airports, Smith said, which occur more often during the colder months.
“I would definitely buy the flight with American Airlines, even if it’s a red-eye,” Smith said. “That eliminates getting stuck in Dallas or Chicago because of the weather, especially in the wintertime.”
The air service to Bradley should also be accompanied by better ground service to Yale, added Smith and Daniel Hamidi ’18, who also flies into LAX. Both said that the commonly used CT Limo service can be unreliable when traveling to and from airports.
This is not the first time American Airlines has offered nonstop flights from Hartford to Los Angeles. In 2013, the CAA secured the same deal with American, and service lasted one year beginning that August. When the airline canceled the flight a year later, it cited high vacancy rates.
The flights to LAX began when American Airlines and US Airways discussed cutting costs as they prepared for a merger, finalized in December 2013. Though the nonstop flights had not yet been able to show profitability at the outset, by the last few months of service, travelers flying from Hartford to Los Angeles occupied 90 percent of seats on the flights.
The new flight will depart Bradley at 7 a.m. Eastern time and arrive at LAX at 10 a.m. Pacific time. The return flight departs LAX for Bradley at 9 p.m. and arrives at 5:20 a.m. the next day.