Published on : Friday, January 28, 2022
Waterloo — Winning out over a competing proposal, American Airlines will continue to offer flights between Waterloo and Chicago through 2024 — twice-daily six days a week and once on Saturday.
American Airlines — operating as its regional airline affiliate, American Eagle — will provide 13 weekly roundtrip flights between Waterloo Regional Airport and Chicago O’Hare.
The agreement, announced Tuesday, was reached between the airline and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Analysis, and was welcome news to airport Director Keith Kaspari.
Kaspari told the airport commission during its monthly meeting Wednesday that thankfully, the DOT stepped up and provided that continuation of service.
The new flight schedule will begin May 1, according to Kaspari. Currently, the airline provides twice-daily flights seven days a week. Kaspari is hopeful AA might provide “an improved schedule” of early morning and early afternoon departures from Waterloo as it had done previously instead of two afternoon departures as it has now.
That was a critical morning departure that everybody seemed to like,” Kaspari said, noting it allowed people more connection options in Chicago.
Waterloo Airport is part of the federally subsidized Essential Air Service program, which ensures service continues to smaller metro airports. American has been the airport’s only commercial carrier since April 2012, when it replaced Delta Airlines. Per the agreement, AA will receive just shy of $4 million per year from the DOT to service Waterloo for the next two years.
This time, American Airlines’ proposal of 13 weekly flights to Chicago was joined by a proposal from Air Choice One, an EAS-exclusive airline that proposed 24 weekly flights to Minneapolis/St. Paul instead.
In a letter to the DOT in December, Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart said the city preferred to stick with AA, noting Air Choice One’s smaller planes, increased fares, less connectivity in Minneapolis compared with Chicago and its lack of agreements with other carriers, the latter of which would require passengers to recheck bags and reclear TSA screening in Minneapolis.