The inaugural flight between Denver and Tokyo takes to the skies Monday, ferrying with it the vision and aspirations of a region that has worked nearly 27 years to create a direct link between its Middle America location and Asia’s economic opportunities.
Clutching to their visions of a cowtown-turned-global city, regional and city leaders overcame years of challenges in pursuit of the flight — including the recent high-profile mechanical problems with the 787 aircraft that is crucial for the route’s financial viability. Yet the hard work is just beginning as economic development and political leaders try to amass enough business and leisure travelers to sustain the flight long-term.
“It is a seminal moment in our economic development,” said Tom Clark, CEO of Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. “It just shows you the ribbon of a business community that stays in these really, really tough deals together. We knew that the only way we are going to compete globally was to get to Japan.”
A Colorado delegation of about 70 business, education and civic leaders — including Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver International Airport’s manager of aviation Kim Day and Colorado Tourism Office director Al White — will be headed to Tokyo June 10 and 11.
Tom Dowd, senior director of globalization, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver
Al White, director, Colorado Tourism Office
Paul Washington, executive director, Denver Office of Economic Development
Jamie Van Leeuwen, deputy chief of staff, Office of Gov. John Hickenlooper
Maureen Ulevich, director, Center for International Education, University of Northern Colorado
Steffan Tubbs, host, Colorado’s Morning News, 850 KOA
Bob Stinchcomb, vice president, business development, Vail Resorts Management Co.
Andy Spielman, partner, Hogan Lovells
Janice Sinden, chief of staff, city and county of Denver
Richard Scharf, president and CEO, Visit Denver
Craig Piper, president and CEO, Denver Zoo
Rob Perlman, senior vice president, Intrawest
Kristen Leigh Painter, reporter, The Denver Post
Inta Morris, senior director for grants and strategic initiatives, Colorado Department of Higher Education
Laura Jackson, senior director, Air Service Development and Aviation Research, Denver International Airport
Barry Hirschfeld Jr., president and CEO, AIP-Japan
Eric Hiraga, chief of staff and deputy manager of aviation, Denver International Airport
Mark Hallett, senior director of international studies, Colorado State University
Stephanie Garnica, director, Americas Trade & Investment, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade
Evan Dreyer, special adviser to the mayor, city and county of Denver
Bob Deibel, president, OfficeScapes
Kim Day, manager of aviation, Denver International Airport
Tom Clark, CEO, Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation
Lawrence Bell, executive director, International Education, University of Colorado
Christopher Herndon, councilman, Denver City Council
Mary Beth Susman, president, Denver City Council
Bob Murphy, mayor, city of Lakewood
Sean Ford, mayor, city of Commerce City
Michael B. Hancock, mayor, city and county of Denver