UK carrier Thomas Cook Airlines has cancelled a planned twice weekly winter link between London and Reno due to the inability of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staff to process over 300 passengers onboard its widebodied Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The airline revealed plans to introduce the UK’s first non-stop air service to the popular US entertainment and ski destination of Reno-Tahoe in November 2014 but it was always contingent upon approval of landing rights and facilitation of passengers by US CBP personnel.
The flights to the Gateway to Tahoe in Reno, Nevada were due to operate twice weekly from London Gatwick Airport during the winter 2015/2016 schedule, commencing December 19, 2015, but a spokesperson confirmed it had unfortunately taking the decision to close the route before services have actually commenced.
“Unfortunately, we can confirm that we have taken the decision to cancel our planned new route from London Gatwick to Reno/Lake Tahoe in the USA which was due to commence in December 2015. This is as a result of information we have received from the US Customs and Border Police that, despite their number of staff being increased at the airport, our customers are likely to still receive substantial delays of up to three hours to clear security. Such is the inconvenience for our customers in accepting these delays, we have decided not to operate the route at present,” the airline said in a statement sent to Routesonline.
Reno is the most populous Nevada city outside of the Las Vegas metropolitan area and famous for its casinos. The city sits in a high desert at the foot of the Sierra Nevada and close to the popular tourist location of Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America. Its location means Reno-Tahoe International Airport is one the closest airports to the major ski resorts of North America with passengers able to see the numerous ski runs on landing.
Lake Tahoe is home to North America’s largest concentration of world-class ski resorts and with 400 inches of snow a year and over 600 ski runs with 113 lifts across an area 17,000 acres, Lake Tahoe is establishing itself as an increasingly popular destination for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, with the city offering of Reno adding to the après ski fun.
Every year more than 25,000 bi-directional O&D passengers fly between Europe and Reno-Tahoe International Airport with annual numbers reaching as high as 38,000 in the last decade. The UK is by far the largest market for passengers accounting for over a quarter of the total annual demand, ahead of Germany, Italy, Spain and France.
“Factors beyond the control of the airport, the tourism partners supporting the flight and Thomas Cook Airlines have led to a cancellation of the service,” added Andy Wirth, president and chief executive officer, Squaw Valley Holdings and vice chairman of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority While losing the London flight is a set-back, air service in the Reno-Tahoe region has strong momentum in 2015.
While losing the London flight is a set-back, air service in the Reno-Tahoe region has strong momentum in 2015. Later this month (May 28, 2015) JetBlue Airways will inaugurate a new link to New York, while the only international link from Reno, a twice weekly service to Guadalajara that was launched in December last year, is performing “extremely well” according to airport executives. “The region is unified and well positioned to achieve more air service success,” said Marily Mora, president and chief executive officer, Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority