United Airlines is putting the international back into Thunder Bay’s airport.
The carrier on Tuesday announced its plans to launch a direct daily flight between the Thunder Bay International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, beginning Feb. 14, 2013.
The flight will leave Thunder Bay at 6 a.m., arriving in the Windy City about 95 minutes later. Return flights will depart Chicago at 6 p.m. and arrive in Thunder Bay at 8:40 p.m.
Service will be provided on a Canadair CRJ 50-seat aircrafts.
Passengers at Thunder Bay’s airport told Tbnewswatch.com that having a direct flight to the United States is a welcomed surprise.
Saquib Siddique, who stopped in Thunder Bay on his way back home to Dryden, said he hated having to always go to Toronto and have that three-hour wait.
“I hate changing flights so I would strongly recommend for a few international flights out of Thunder Bay,” Siddique said.
Dyki Nwosah shared Siddique’s opinion and wished there was a way to skip the trip to Pearson International Airport when Toronto wasn’t the final destination.
“Thunder Bay should have more direct flights,” Nwosah said. “That’s really impressive that they are getting flights to Chicago. It opens more opportunities with more direct flights.”
Thunder Bay International Airports Authority president and CEO Scott McFadden said they had been in talks with United for the past 18 months since Delta Air Lines pulled its flights to Minneapolis, Minn.
The airline and airport looked at market data to see if having that route to Chicago would be a good idea.
“United has come in saying they would like to do twice daily service and maybe even three times daily,” McFadden said. “It’s unlikely that we’ll see a flight to Minneapolis and Chicago. We’ll just be content if we can support and grow the one US destination.”
The flight to Chicago will be the only scheduled trans-border flight when it starts in February. The Thunder Bay airport did offer three charter flights that operated on a weekly basis.
So far, two of those charters have confirmed they will fly from Thunder Bay this winter, he said.
But the success or failure of the new route will depend on the community and the region, McFadden said.
“Chicago is one of United’s hubs,” he said. “You fly to the hub and that will enable passengers to connect to United’s entire network.”
Bookings are available immediately at www.united.com.
Bearskin Airlines is also in the process of adding a Thunder Bay to Minneapolis route, though the plan has been delayed for several months now.