United Airlines will offer new service from Springfield-Branson National Airport to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport beginning June 8.
Tom Babick, chairman of the airport’s board of directors, said the new service is the airport’s 13th nonstop destination. The average number of nonstop destinations for a city similar in size to Springfield, according to Babick, is nine.
"This is another milestone in the history of the airport and the entire community," said Babick.
Airport director, Brian Weiler said the new service will add 36,000 new seats into our market—a 30 percent increase in seat capacity for United and a six percent increase in seats overall for the Springfield airport.
He said the addition of another destination from Springfield points to the growth of the airport and the region. According to Weiler, the airline industry is coming out of an economic period of instability and change and is very reluctant to add new routes and seat capacity.
"So the fact that United Airlines is doing this in Springfield is further recognition of an improving local economy, investing in our future," said Weiler.
Weiler points to growing passenger numbers at the airport—a record 950,000 last year—and says 2017 is trending that way as well. January passenger numbers were up seven percent. He hopes to surpass the million mark this year.
Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce president, Matt Morrow, said the new service to Houston will allow the airport to have an average of 28 daily departures to six major airline hubs, which he calls “critical to the future growth of our region.”
"This announcement is both the result of and a key contributor to our economic growth and expansion as a region," said Morrow." It would not be happening but for the fact that this is a growing and vibrant place."
He said the new service will allow the city to be more competitive in attracting jobs.
Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens said the addition of the new service to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport offers Springfield travelers access to United’s second largest hub and its gateway to Latin America.
Tickets for the new service are already for sale.