United Airlines canceling service to Springfield

Beginning June 1, United Airlines will no longer serve Springfield, Mark Hanna, executive director of Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, told Illinois Times Saturday.

“We're very disappointed to learn that United, our hometown airline, has decided to discontinue service to the Illinois state capital,” he said. “We understand the decision was really based on a lack of current demand, overall market conditions and a severe nationwide pilot shortage.”

United has one daily flight between Springfield and O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

The United announcement comes two months after American Airlines announced that it would discontinue its daily flight between Springfield and Dallas-Fort Worth, also on June 1.

American Airlines will begin offering two flights daily to O’Hare on that date.

United’s decision will leave Springfield served by only two airline routes: American’s flight to and from O’Hare and Allegiant Airlines’ less frequent flights to and from Punta Gorda/Ft. Myers, Florida.

United Airlines is headquartered in Chicago and its main hub is at O’Hare. The airline’s Springfield connection proved convenient for travelers wishing to take advantage of United’s many destinations while remaining on the same airline.

“Air service is very emotional for us as a community,” Hanna said. “But when it comes to the providers, they need to meet their internal (financial) returns and their targets.

"And basically, it's a very mobile resource. They can fly that aircraft to another market and make more money. So, we don't just compete against Champaign, Bloomington, Peoria or St. Louis. We're competing against Portland, Oregon; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Amarillo, Texas; Sacramento, California. We compete with every community — east, west, north, south — for aircraft time.”

Most of the people working for United in Springfield held part-time positions, he said, so the number of jobs lost will be minimal.

“The possibility of (United) coming back, I think, is very good in the future," Hanna said. "But this situation is going to get worse. And there are many people in airports, airlines and aviation across the country who feel the same. This pilot situation is real. It's very severe, and it's not going to get better anytime soon.”

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder could not be reached immediately for comment.

Scott Reeder, a staff writer for Illinois Times, can be reached at [email protected]

Scott Reeder

Scott Reeder is a staff writer at Illinois Times.

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