United Airlines is landing in the Forest City, giving the Chicago/Rockford International Airport another big name airline to compete with a big name airport just down the road.
"What it means for Rockford is there's no reason to go to O'Hare. You are going to get the frequent flier miles, you are going to get free parking out here, and airfare, just the same as if you were flying to O'Hare on United," RFD Executive Director Bob O'Brien said.
The non-stop, round trip service to Denver will take off in March with 13 weekly flights on a 50-seat United Express regional jet. RFD officials say the fares will be about $325 similar pricing to Denver from O'Hare. The challenge now: making sure more Stateline travelers book their trips right here.
"It means people thinking about whether or not to come out here, parking for free at this terminal, so close to home, catching an aircraft, less hassle in terms of security, and enjoying their trip," U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said.
Once passengers get to Denver, they can hop on a flight to 100 other United destinations in the West and the world. And travelers who rack up frequent flier miles out of Chicago, can cash them in Rockford.
"This really provides us an opportunity to provide the customers of this region with some travel alternatives. We are going to continue to provide a great product from O'Hare, but we're excited to provide some new opportunities with this service to Denver," United Airlines V.P. of Resource Planning Kevin Knight said.
U.S. Congressman Don Manzullo - who spearheaded a one million dollar grant to RFD - says the United Denver service will also unite, and expand, the area's economic potential.
"The more activity you have, the easier it is to come to a city, the more it attracts not only new industry, but it keeps industry here," Manzullo said.
The Chicago/Rockford International Airport put in place a $2.5 million revenue guarantee with United Airlines over one year. That means there needs to be an 80 percent capacity on average per flight the next 12 months. You can book tickets starting this Wednesday on http://www.flyrfd.com