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Nonstop flights to Chicago return to CHO

This August, more than a year after United Airlines suspended service to Chicago, direct flights from Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport to Chicago O’Hare International Airport are returning.

Resumption of the Chicago service was reported by The Daily Progress in late February but not confirmed by airport officials until Tuesday.

“Chicago continues to be one of our most popular markets,” CHO’s Chief Operating Officer Jason Burch told the Daily Progress. “And we’re grateful to United for resuming the service.”

Chicago is the latest destination to return to Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport after Orlando in May and Philadelphia in April. A single roundtrip flight between Charlottesville and the busy Midwest airline hub will be offered daily, filling the demand for the destination and further flights out west.

When these flights return on Aug. 2, flyers can leave Charlottesville each day at 10:30 a.m. and land at the Windy City at 11:29. The return flight will leave ORD at 6:15 p.m. and arrive at CHO 9:10 p.m.

“The service is well-timed to connect to a vast network beyond Chicago including West Coast cities,” Burch said.

He said the flights will be run on Embraer 175 regional jets with 12 seats of first-class service.

“We’re going to continue to work with United on this,” said Burch. “We’re going to continue to try to grow the market to get it back to a full restoration.”

By the time they came to an end on June 2, 2022, nonstops between CHO and Chicago had become a five-year tradition. But one lost tradition is last year’s frequency. Instead of two roundtrips per day, the resumed service starts with one.

“It grows if it gets used,” said Burch. “It comes down to whether our business travelers continue to travel.”

Resumed service to Chicago will bring CHO’s passenger count to 91% of what it was in 2019, airport officials told The Daily Progress.

“United Airlines is one of the world’s largest airlines, and the return of this service to Chicago will restore CHO’s commercial flight operations to pre-covid levels,” said Don Long, chairman of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport Authority, in a press release.

American Airlines stopped flights between Charlottesville and Chicago in November 2020, and United followed last June amid the pilot shortage brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the collapse of air travel.

United currently offers nonstop service to Reagan National Airport outside of Washington and connecting flights to Chicago through that hub.

Daily Progress reporter Hawes Spencer contributed to this story.


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