Business and political leaders are weighing in on news that Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) will launch the first nonstop flight from Indiana to Europe. The daily service from Indianapolis International Airport to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris will take off in May, following a multi-year focus on overseas nonstops from airport, state and city officials. During a news conference Wednesday at IND, officials mentioned several times the importance of the flight for the Hoosier economy and business interests.
Governor Eric Holcomb, who succeeded in pushing the General Assembly for millions in dedicated state funding for more international flights, says global air service is "critically important" to the Indiana economy. "Global companies rank the availability of direct flights as essential — really as mission-critical — when selecting domestic markets in which to grow. So we are once again accommodating that need," Holcomb said during Wednesday’s unveiling in Indianapolis. "With all the talks that we had with our business community leaders in various industries from the tech industries to aviation to advanced manufacturing, the list goes on and on and on, and it was brought up — made abundantly obvious to me — over and over again during our recent visit to the Paris Air Show." He also said the state is committed to delivering "like days" to other Hoosier communities with international airports.
The Indianapolis Airport Authority estimates the Paris flight could have a $50 million-per-year economic impact. It says 310 travelers flying across the Atlantic from Indianapolis International every day. Executive Director Mario Rodriguez says landing the flight was a collaborative effort. "That goal over time has been to connect IND to every direction of the globe. A nonstop destination into Paris puts travelers — for business and leisure — right in the heart of Europe, with access to hundreds of cities, business economies and some of the greatest attractions in the world," he added.
Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar, a longtime proponent of more nonstop and direct air service to Europe, says the flight "reinforces the image that Indiana is a global player for business. The state has established itself as a leader on this important stage, particularly over the last decade-plus. Now, we have the direct air connections to support that status." Brinegar continued "we believe it only represents the beginning of the travel avenues that Indiana will enjoy with Europe."
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-99), who supported the aforementioned appropriation of state funds for direct flight-targeted incentives, said the Paris flight is a "major boost" and added "as Hoosier companies search for top-level talent and international businesses look for areas to grow their operations, it’s critical that Indiana offers fast and easy travel connections with global commercial hubs."
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Delta up to $5.5 million for two years as part of the package to bring the nonstop to Indiana. Nearly 191,000 Hoosiers are employed by foreign-owned companies.