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Salt Lake City International Airport connecting the crossroads of the West with the heart of Europe

Helmut Woelfel, the CCO of Eurowings Discover, left, hands a Eurowings Discover A-330 model airplane to Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson during a press conference at the Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on Monday.

Helmut Woelfel, the CCO of Eurowings Discover, left, hands a Eurowings Discover A-330 model airplane to Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson during a press conference at the Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on Monday. (Mengshin Lin, Deseret News)


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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE — In his 30-plus years of working as a pilot and head of flight operation for Lufthansa Group, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf always wanted a nonstop flight from Europe to Salt Lake City.

"When I flew the 747 for many years, I overflew Salt Lake so often on my way to Los Angeles and every time I crossed the valley here I explained to my passengers what Salt Lake City was and how beautiful Utah is," said Elder Uchtdorf, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Elder Uchtdorf, renowned for telling stories from his pilot days during his addresses at the church's general conferences, finally saw that dream come to fruition on Monday as Lufthansa Group airline announced the liftoff of the first and only direct flights from the Salt Lake City International Airport to Frankfurt, Germany.

"Since Eurowings Discover announced nonstop service between SLC and Frankfurt a year ago, the excitement and anticipation have been building," said Bill Wyatt, executive director of the Salt Lake City International Airport. "Today, we give a hearty welcome to our newest international carrier and look forward to a long and prosperous partnership."

The airline will host passengers on its leisure airline, Eurowings Discover, three times a week on nonstop flights departing Utah's capital city on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, becoming the only direct service from Salt Lake City to Europe's Germanic countries.

"These flights have a significance in history of connection between countries, between nations," Uchtdorf said. "It opens borders, it brings freedom, it brings communication."

Besides connecting countries, it will also be a significant opportunity for Utah to mingle in international business.

"The United States remains the most important market for the Lufthansa Group outside of our European bases, and we remain committed to the region as we map our recovery from the impacts of the pandemic," said Don Bunkenburg, senior director of sales for U.S., Central, West and Central America, Lufthansa Group. "Salt Lake City is a brand new gateway for the Lufthansa Group and we could not be happier to add more opportunities and capacity into and out of the United States."

After spending the past week in Germany, Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson was on board for the inaugural flight from Frankfurt to Salt Lake City on Monday.

"As we were visiting with businesses who, you know, might potentially come over here and do business in the state of Utah, this direct flight from Frankfurt to Salt Lake City was an incredibly enticing part of what we talked to them about," Henderson said. "This will make things so much easier for people to do business and travel and enjoy themselves and enjoy the leisure that this flight will bring."

She went on to say that she sees many parallels between Utahns and Germans.

"We share those values of hard work, of industry, of valuing family and community and we're so excited to have the miles vanish between our state and your country," Henderson said.

Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, said that the business, tourism and governmental leaders that arrived in Salt Lake City on the inaugural flight from Frankfurt, as well as the travelers who will do so in the future, are "actively cultivating" relationships that will develop opportunities and strengthen Utah's position on the global stage.

Why? Because Salt Lake City and Utah have culture, industry, entertainment, outdoor recreation opportunities and more, he said.

"Utah has been known since its settlement as the crossroads of the West and today is another milestone that will take us one step closer to becoming the crossroads of the world," Miller said.

The connection between Salt Lake City and Frankfurt is a summer seasonal service.

"As of today, passengers from Salt Lake City are able to have direct access to the heart of Europe in Frankfurt," Bunkenburg said. "We're ready to take you to Europe whenever you'd like to go."

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Logan Stefanich is a reporter with KSL.com, covering southern Utah communities, education, business and military news.

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