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Thursday, May 30, 2024

My Kind of Town

Evansville Regional Airport announces return of Chicago service

Paused for the last two years, Evansville Regional Airport’s daily connections with Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport via American Airlines are set to return on Sept. 4.

EVV usage plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic, but with that crisis now in the rearview mirror, the airport is seeing an uptick. Recent air service additions have included twice-weekly flights to and from Orlando, Florida, on Breeze Airways and twice-weekly connections with the Tampa, Florida, region through Allegiant Air.

The restoration of Chicago flights, however, was in high demand among area business and leisure travelers. The two daily back-and-forth connections will be operated by Air Wisconsin on CRJ 200 regional jets with 50 seats, and tickets will go on sale on April 15.

Friday morning’s announcement in the EVV terminal was celebrated by the airport officials, as well as by local and state political leaders who wanted the Windy City flights to come back.

Indiana Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg said the return of Evansville’s Chicago connection will “increase our connectivity, create more opportunities to attract new investment, and accelerate community assets that will advance the quality of life here in the region.”

State government played an important role in getting EVV’s Chicago service restored, Vanderburgh County Board of Commissioners President Cheryl Musgrave said.

Musgrave noted the massive size and reach of O’Hare International Airport and called for area travelers to use the service.

“It’s a known fact that airlines follow the demand of travelers,” Musgrave said. “By supporting the new Chicago flight and all the air service options right here at EVV, we create a ripple effect of success. Just as success breeds success, let’s make the Evansville Regional Airport an irresistible hub for airlines to expand their route offerings.”

Evansville Mayor Stephanie Terry agreed, saying that “if we want to keep these types of flights … we must fly EVV first.”

Evansville-based Old National Bank, which in 2022 merged with Chicago’s First Midwest Bank, will benefit from the restoration of EVV’s connection with O’Hare, said Jim Ryan, CEO of ONB.

“We care a lot about our team members, and we want to make sure they have a safe way to get to and from the places they need to get,” Ryan said. “And as somebody who has an awful lot of operations in Chicago, this will help our team members certainly get back and forth in a safe manner.”

Terry gave a ceremonial key to the city to Dale Morris, American Airlines senior consultant for governmental affairs. American Airlines has daily service from EVV to Charlotte, North Carolina, and Dallas, Texas, and returning Chicago to the mix “is going to offer a lot of great opportunities and, we’re so proud that we could make that happen,” Morris said.

Speakers at Friday’s announcement noted the community’s desire for Chicago flights to return. Now that the service is back, they encouraged residents to plan trips.

EVV Executive Director Nate Hahn said the airport has recently added “more connections, more opportunities, but we have to take advantage of them.”

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, in a news release, said the Evansville airport’s Chicago service “is a big win, not just for Southwest Indiana, but for the entire state. A direct flight from Evansville to the third-largest city in the country will be a conduit for economic growth, business development, and limitless opportunities for Hoosiers.”

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Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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