UNITED Airlines is to launch Edinburgh’s first direct flights to Chicago next year, eight years after American Airlines axed its services to the mid-western city from Glasgow.
The announcement today will come as a major boost to Scotland’s busiest airport, which has been desperate to win more long-haul routes as it steps up the battle for passengers against rivals Glasgow.
The summer flights to United’s O’Hare International hub, from where it operates 125 routes, will run from 23 May to 6 October, increasing from five times a week to daily between June and September.
United became Edinburgh’s first long-haul airline 15 years ago when it started daily flights to New York.
First Minister Alex Salmond said the new route would help bring visitors for 2014 events such as the YYear of Homecoming and the Ryder Cup.
He said: “I’m delighted that United Airlines has decided to invest in a new route and enhance its existing service between Scotland and the USA.
“By improving direct routes overseas, we can help reduce the need for travellers to make extra connecting flights via London or the continent, support tourism, trade and investment and so further strengthen Scotland’s economy.
“The eyes of the world will be on Scotland in 2014, and, as we host international sporting stars at the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup and celebrate another Year of Homecoming, we hope to welcome visitors from across the world, not least from the United States, with whom we share strong and enduring bonds.”
Bob Schumacher, United’s managing director sales for UK and Ireland, said: “Having recently celebrated 15 years of operations in Scotland, we’re delighted to expand our schedule with seasonal non-stop service to Chicago, United’s home town.
Next year’s Homecoming promotion and Ryder Cup at Gleneagles make it the ideal time to launch these flights, which will offer our customers an increased range of travel choices and opportunities.”
Boeing 757-200 aircraft with 169 seats will operate the service.