VIENNA, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport started its daily flights to Chicago on Friday.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at 7:45 a.m. before the first flight left at 9:30 a.m.
Kathleen Kennedy is from the Valley and is spending the weekend in Chicago for her husband’s birthday. She says she’s excited for what this flight to Chicago will do for the area.
“I mean, it’s so much less expensive than driving to Pittsburgh or Cleveland. Convenience, parking, everything, and I think it just opens a whole other realm of possibilities in terms of travel.”
Greeted with a water cannon salute from the Air Reserve Base, the flight from Chicago landed in Youngstown around 1:30 p.m. Friday.
“It’s not about the flight, it was a great flight. It’s now the recognition by people that we have these flights, we have these opportunities to get a chance to go to Chicago and beyond,” said John Moliterno, executive director of the Western Reserve Port Authority.
The daily flights have been in the works for some time. It has been 14 long years since the airport has had daily flights.
“It means more to this Valley. It’s important to the people of the Youngstown-Warren area that we have daily flights out of our own airport,” Moliterno said.
The flights are operated by Aerodynamics Incorporated. The carrier, Great Lakes Jet Express, will take passengers to Chicago O’Hare Airport.
Moliterno says the economic impact is expected to be great, with business people benefiting from the flights. He says there is a convenience factor to flying out of Youngstown and the prices are competitive.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for, not only this airport, but this entire Valley.”
The Port Authority is already talking about adding more flights.
“We’re excited about where this is going to take us in the future. We hope to have some destinations to the east and to the south,” Moliterno said. “The more people that fly, the more profitable this company is, the more likely they are to not only expand these flights, but to move off and add some additional flights.”
The future looks promising, with both flights to and from Chicago booked.
“We hope it’s only the start,” Moliterno said. “This is only the beginning of what we see happening at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.”
Customers can book flights through the Great Lakes Airlines website or by calling 1-800-554-5111. YNG published a how-to guide for purchasing tickets, which is available to download on its website, yngairport.com.