SkyWest Close To Adding Chicago Flight From Watertown

(KWAT) — Watertown Regional Airport is on the verge of adding service to a second major hub. The Watertown Airport Board voted unanimously Monday to recommend adding service to Chicago O’Hare Airport in addition to the current service to Denver International. The recommendation next goes to the Watertown City Council, which will vote on it during a meeting Tuesday….

“So based at what I know today, they’re looking at a 10:00 departure out of Chicago, arriving in Watertown at noon. They’ll turn and go back to Chicago at 12:30 and in Chicago at 2:30 pm. Seven days a week is what they implied to so far so, we’re looking at a start date around that September time frame.”

Airport Manager Todd Syhre says it’s unique for an airport the size of Watertown’s to have daily flights to two hubs…

“You know, if you think about it…we line up almost in the middle of…directly, of Chicago and Denver and for SkyWest to not have to put a whole lot more money into ticket prices; being the same amount of distance from Denver to Watertown as it is Watertown to Chicago; I think is very unique, you know. Usually if you have the situation it’s gonna be a little longer leg one way or the other and we’ve just lined up perfectly…we’re at the start of the line and this is where we are at. The same distance from Watertown to Denver as it is to, or roughly the same…to Chicago so. I don’t foresee any ticket price changes; they still have to follow the Essential Air Service contract.”

Councilman Bruce Buhler thinks the opportunity to flight east to Chicago is a, “huge opportunity”…..

“Well, I think, obviously, we’re going to be able to maintain what we have going west; but this eastern opportunity; there is so much business that’s done to the east and to go through Denver to go west to go east; it makes it a little more difficult. And as someone who’s traveled a lot from Watertown…you know when we had the Minneapolis hub, we used it all the time and I think for the business traveler it’s going to make a big difference, having the opportunity to go to Chicago and fly out of there. And also I think you’re going to get people from that Chicago area that are going to fly here maybe instead of Sioux Falls if they have that option. Whereas before they would have to go somewhere else to get to Watertown.

He says the fares will be a big key for the success of the Chicago service….

“It always is. You know, as a business traveler in my history, if it was way more expensive to fly out of here, a lot of people will take the option to go to Sioux Falls and hopefully they’re competitive with their pricing and…that way it’s going to make a big difference as to how many people will utilize that flight in and out of Chicago. I think that will make a difference.”

United Express began service from Watertown and Pierre to Denver on April 3rd. Syhre says there were 607 boardings in April, which he says was a good number when you consider there were six cancelled flights due to weather.