Flights in and out of Chicago coming to Waterloo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Flights in and out of Chicago coming to Waterloo


There's a change in the air for the Waterloo Regional Airport. It appears American Airlines' American Eagle service will take over as the primary commercial airline in Waterloo and in Sioux City -- replacing Delta Airlines.

Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark and Airport Director Bradley Hagen said Thursday that they have not received official word from American Airlines. But the Department of Transportation is reporting it has awarded Essential Air Service contracts for both Waterloo and Sioux City Regional Airports to American Airlines. That provides American Airlines with a $1.5 million annual subsidy to operate in Waterloo.

Thursday, Senator Tom Harkin applauded the DOT's decision, saying it is a positive move for travelers from both Waterloo and Sioux City.

"Connecting Sioux City and Waterloo air service through O'Hare will improve the flying options for travelers, while, at the same time, create and preserve jobs in both areas," said Senator Tom Harkin. "Better service is also important for economic development and in attracting new businesses. I am hopeful that American Airlines will be able to expand their air service to both cities over time, eliminating the need for federal support."

Travelers can expect to see changes which go far beyond a different company logo on the side of the plane. For one, instead of connecting in Minneapolis, travelers will land at O'Hare in Chicago.

Both Delta and American submitted bids to operate in Waterloo. But only one company traveled to the Cedar Valley and pitched their service in person.

"American came to us, and gave us their presentation. They made a commitment to the market that they would actively market Waterloo as a destination and as a place to travel out of. We don't have that from Delta right now," Clark said.

Ultimately, area leaders opted to switch to American Airlines. And here's the part most people will like -- ticket prices are expected to go down.

"They will do some pretty enticing fee sales on American out of Waterloo, which we haven't had in a very long time. Price is always an issue here, and I believe American will address that."

As we reported last week, American Airlines has filed for Chapter Eleven bankruptcy. So it may seem like odd timing for the company to expand into new communities. Clark said, American executives were up front about the restructuring process, and say it will not impact the ability to operate in Waterloo.

There is no word yet on exactly how soon the switch from Delta to American Airlines will take place. But Clark estimates we will see American Eagle planes flying into Waterloo by the end of spring. He said, there will be some unhappy people who are accustomed to flying Delta, but ultimately believes community leaders made the best choice for the long run.

"I believe this is a really good move for us," said Clark.

American Airlines is planning to fly thirteen flights a week from Waterloo to Chicago.

The DOT is evaluating air service and accepting similar bids for airports all over the country, including in Sioux City.  American Eagle also serves the Eastern Iowa Airport and the Dubuque Regional Airport.

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