SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Northern Indiana officials are celebrating the start of direct air service between South Bend International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.
United Airlines’ inaugural flight arrived Sunday evening in South Bend at near capacity on the 50-seat flight operated by ExpressJet. The flights taking slightly more than two hours will depart South Bend at 6:08 a.m. daily, with a return flight at 9:23 p.m. From Newark, it’s a short trip by bus, taxi or train into New York City.
“Anyone scheduling this flight could almost have a full business day and then return home,” Kimberly Egan, a United sales manager, told the South Bend Tribune.
“As of right now, the bookings look quite strong and well supported for the type of aircraft and number of seats that we have,” Egan said. “And what we will be looking for long term is continued support. Not only from businesses but from leisure travelers as well.”
University of Notre Dame freshman Samantha Meehan was one of those leisure travelers, flying back to South Bend Sunday night after spending fall break with her family in New Jersey.
“It definitely made my trip easier,” Meehan said of the direct flight. “It guaranteed that I got to spend more time with my family.”
Abe Marcus, vice president of the St. Joseph County Airport Authority board of directors also arrived on the inaugural flight after spending the day in New York visiting with family and taking in Times Square, the 9/11 Memorial and a New York Jets football game.
“Just think what that would mean for a company with offices in New York,” he said.
An agreement with United calls for up to $750,000 in federal and local funds that could be used, if necessary, to help support the airline while it tests the market. About $227,000 would come from grant money left from a U.S. Department of Transportation award to South Bend in 2012 to help bring in Frontier Airlines.
Frontier left the South Bend market in September 2013, citing low load factors on flights to Denver. However, about 85 percent of the 138-seats on Frontier’s planes were filled most days.
Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com
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