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A Delta plane makes its final approach Monday, May 19, 2014, at Salt Lake City International Airport.

SALT LAKE CITY — Starting next summer, Utah travelers will be able to take a direct flight across the pond and arrive in London in time for afternoon tea.

On Tuesday, Delta announced that Salt Lake City will become the airline's eighth stop from London's Heathrow Airport, and the only nonstop connection between the Mountain West and the United Kingdom.

Beginning in May 2016, Delta will offer daily continuous flights between the two airports on a seasonal basis. The route will be operated in conjunction with Virgin Atlantic Airways.

"For the second summer in a row, Delta will be launching new routes that give customers more options when flying between the United States and the U.K.," said Nat Pieper, Delta's senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The route will be operated during the peak summer travel season, similar to the direct flight to Amsterdam, explained Delta spokeswoman Liz Savadelis.

The announcement was welcomed enthusiastically by officials at the Salt Lake City International Airport.

"International travel is up all throughout the world and Salt Lake City is no exception," said airport spokeswoman Bianca Shreeve. "The Paris flight has been a success for Delta and Amsterdam has been tremendously successful, so we're hopeful that London goes off with a bang as well."

In May, Delta launched daily nonstop services from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The daily summer route is operated in conjunction with joint venture partners Air France, KLM and Alitalia.

The service will be part of a planned 8 percent capacity increase at Delta’s Salt Lake City hub over the next five years. Launched in June 2008, the airline also operates daily nonstop service from Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport — currently, the only trans-Atlantic service offered by any airline from Salt Lake City.

Beginning in June 2009, Delta had launched nonstop flights between Salt Lake City and Tokyo Narita International Airport daily, excluding Sundays and Tuesdays, as part of the company's merger with Northwest Airlines. But that route was suspended just months after it began due to lack of demand and concerns over the H1N1 virus scare. It has never been reinstated.

Meanwhile, for local leisure or business passengers, the new direct flight to London will likely be a welcome new travel option.

"Anytime you can fly nonstop, it just cuts off time and makes connections to Europe so much easier," said Linda Smith, a travel agent with Christopherson Travel. "This is awesome!"

London flights

Flights will depart Salt Lake City at 8:10 p.m. and arrive in London at 1:10 p.m. the next day. Return flights will leave Heathrow Airport at 2:15 p.m. and arrive at the Salt Lake City International Airport at 6:07 p.m.

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