After welcoming San Joaquin County Supervisors Chuck Winn, Tom Patti and Miguel Villapudua to Stockton Metropolitan Airport on Wednesday afternoon, airport director Russell Stark announced that United Airlines will start offering direct flights from Stockton to Los Angeles next year.

“Beginning Aug. 20, 2019, United Airlines will be providing United Express service through Skywest, two times a day, to Los Angeles International Airport,” Stark said.

Flights will leave Stockton at 7:41 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily, Stark said, arriving in Los Angeles at 9:10 a.m. and 4:29 p.m., respectively. Return flights will leave Los Angeles at 1 p.m. and 5:10 p.m. daily, arriving in Stockton at 2:22 p.m. and 6:32 p.m., respectively.

Round-trip tickets cost approximately $185 each and are already available for presale, Stark said, although flights cannot be booked for dates earlier than Aug. 20, 2019.

Stark thanked United and Skywest Airlines, as well as the airport’s staff, the county supervisors, the San Joaquin County Aviation Advisory Committee and the San Francisco International Airport executives who he said played a role in bringing the new service to Stockton Airport.

“I also want to thank the traveling public for your continued support of Stockton Metropolitan Airport,” Stark said. “Without you, none of this would be possible.”

When Stockton Airport considered changing its name last year to include “San Francisco,” executives at San Francisco International met with Stockton Airport executives and county officials, according to Patti, who represents parts of Lathrop, Manteca and Stockton.

During the meetings, San Francisco International said they were overburdened by flights, Patti said, and helped facilitate the conversations with United Airways that resulted in the new direct flights from Stockton to Los Angeles.

“This is an exciting day for our region, and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Patti said.

Villapudua, who represents parts of Stockton, shared in Patti’s excitement.

“As an elected official, you want to make the quality of life better for the people you represent,” Villapudua said. “I think two flights a day to Los Angeles is going to make a big difference for a lot of people.”

Winn, who represents Escalon, Ripon and Lodi, said the new direct flights will be especially beneficial for Lodi’s wine industry as Los Angeles International offers service to much of the world.

“Since our wines are distributed worldwide, this is going to be an opportunity to expedite travel and expand our reach,” Winn said.

Given Stockton Airport’s proximity to Lodi, Pat Patrick, president and chief executive officer of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, believes the new flights will save time for travelers who will no longer have to fly out of Sacramento International Airport.

“You pretty much have to leave your house in Lodi at 5:30 a.m. to get to the airport for an 8 o’clock flight,” Patrick said of Sacramento International. “This (new service) will probably shave off an hour and a half from going to Sacramento International, so I’m excited.”

Nancy Beckman, president and chief executive officer for Visit Lodi, said the direct flights will be especially beneficial for Lodi’s tourism industry.

“The Greater Los Angeles Area is our second-largest overnight market as it is,” Beckman said. “I think this is a good thing for Lodi, a good thing for the visitor and it will connect Lodi to the rest of the nation, so I think that’s terrific.”

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