Water cannons and Japanese dancers greeted the turnaround of Delta Air Lines' first nonstop flight between Salt Lake City and Tokyo on Wednesday.
A crowd gathered at Salt Lake City International Airport's Gate D6 for a ribbon-cutting with samurai swords.
The 243-seat Airbus departed Wednesday, a few hours after making the inaugural 10-hour, 20-minute flight from Narita Airport.
State tourism officials were on hand to meet with leaders of Japan's travel industry, who planned to soak up the sights in Utah.
A contingent of Utah travel and ski-industry officials boarded the return flight for a five-day tour of Japan.
"We're going to capture a new market -- Japanese skiers," Jason Perry, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, said by cell phone as the plane readied for takeoff.
The Utah team planned to rely on Yuichiro Miura, 76, the first man to ski down Mount Everest and owner of a second home in Park City, to help talk up Utah's slopes in Japan.
"We're the only airline with service to Tokyo from the Intermountain region," Delta spokesman Anthony Black said Wednesday. "We'll be able to absorb a lot of traffic from this region and feed it to Tokyo." Denver doesn't offer comparable direct service.
Flight 4260 to Tokyo, where passengers can pick up Delta connections to 14 other major Asian cities, "cuts substantial travel time and adds a great deal of convenience for company representatives who want to do business in Utah," Spencer Eccles, chairman of the Salt Lake Chamber's international business committee, told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Delta expects demand to justify the service every day except Tuesdays and Saturdays, and everyday travelers helped fill seats for the inaugural flights, Black said.© Wire reports