UPDATE: United adds Willard to O'Hare service

UPDATE: United adds Willard to O'Hare service

SAVOY — United Airlines today confirmed an earlier News-Gazette story that it plans to resume service between Champaign-Urbana and Chicago O’Hare International Airport, starting June 8.

The new United Express service offers three daily flights with a combined 150 daily seats, the airline said.

United will join American Airlines at Willard Airport (CMI), both providing air service to and from the greater Champaign-Urbana area and Chicago.

United Express last operated at Willard in 1993.

Gene Cossey, executive director of Willard Airport, noted that increased air service is a testament to the community’s support of Willard and the airport’s continued commitment to serve the region.

“We are very excited to be welcoming United Airlines as a part of the Fly Champaign-Urbana family.  The new service will enhance the already convenient travel from Champaign-Urbana, provide easy access to destinations all over the world, and give more opportunities for economic growth in Champaign County,” he said. “So many people have worked very hard to help Willard Airport grow and this provides just one more reason to choose your hometown airport first.”

United Airlines is currently the largest airline in the world in terms of cities served, with flights to 360 cities on five continents. United Airlines largest domestic hub, O’Hare provides direct service to 208 destinations, including 153 domestic destinations and 55 international destinations.

“United’s new service between Champaign-Urbana and Chicago O’Hare International Airport offers United customers a much wider array of domestic and international travel options,” said Eric Schmauch, United’s director of regional sales. “With hundreds of available connections at our Chicago hub, we are confident that our customers in Champaign will benefit greatly from this flight.”

The United O’Hare hub will provide CMI with service to 27 unique one-stop destinations not currently served including Maui, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Costa Rica, Grand Cayman, Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt and more. 

United Airlines will provide a comprehensive international gateway serving Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

Currently the No. 1 U.S. carrier to Asia with service to 21 cities in the continent, University of Illinois Associate Chancellor Mike DeLorenzo said the new service will be beneficial for the university’s international students.

“A goal of the airport task force has always been air service enhancement for the University and community and we are thrilled United Airlines is adding air service to Willard,” he said. “This additional air service will provide our faculty, staff and students increased options for travel nationally and internationally as they continue work in supporting our preeminent University.”

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, believes this will have a positive impact on the local and regional community.

“This is an exciting announcement that will allow Champaign-Urbana and surrounding areas the ability to grow and succeed,” said Davis. “Air service to our smaller communities is extremely important to connect them globally and support our local economies.”

The schedule for the new flights between Champaign-Urbana and Chicago is:

5:45 (departure)
1:45 (departure)
5:20 (departure)

12:15 (arrival)
3:50 (arrival)
8:55 (arrival, plane remains overnight)

Original story

SAVOY — Central Illinois residents may have more travel options for getting to and from Chicago in a few months.

University of Illinois Willard Airport officials plan to make an announcement today about service to the Savoy airport.

Airport Executive Director Gene Cossey on Sunday did not want to share what he described as the "good news" because of "other issues that have to happen" first.

However, the website Routes Online posted a story Sunday morning saying United Airlines updated its schedule over the weekend to include a number of new or resumed routes within the United States beginning June 8.

Among the additions were several flights daily between Willard and O'Hare.

Routes Online reported that Chicago-based United will use the Embraer 145, a twin-engine aircraft primarily employed for regional transportation, designed to hold 50 passengers, three abreast.

Three daily flights are reportedly scheduled to leave Willard at 5:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m. and 5:20 p.m., and three daily are expected to leave Chicago for Savoy at 12:15 p.m., 3:50 p.m. and 8:55 p.m. Flight time between the two cities is about an hour.

Currently, American Eagle has several flights daily from Willard to O'Hare and one to Dallas-Fort Worth.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
whatithink wrote on February 27, 2017 at 8:02 am

Sure would be nice to go somewhere besides Chicago or Dallas?  It's all about the university making it easy to cater to clients getting to Chicago, NOT providing a public transportation and making money.  Sorry representation of an "airport" and a waste of tax money.  The broke State of Illinois should not allow a university to own this and sell it!  

billbtri5 wrote on February 27, 2017 at 2:02 pm

..have not used United for awhile due to the poor service including crabby flight attendants who think they are doing you a favor letting you sit in the plane...

chief21 wrote on February 27, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Good point....What's the fare going to be?  $150 each way? It's a non issue with University and other government " cost be damned" concerns. I can fly from Bloomington to Florida for LESS than Champaign to Chicago.

jlc wrote on February 27, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Why in the world would you assume people are flying to Chicago as their final destination? The point is that people are connecting through Chicago to other places, like the article explains. Having competition will hopefully lower airfares as well.

Orbiter wrote on February 27, 2017 at 4:02 pm

I despise connecting through ORD.  So sad we can't get a link to a different hub, say CLT or even STL.  This won't bring prices down, it's just going to drive American out of this market.