United to pull out of Chicago Midway
United Airlines will end service at Chicago's Midway Airport by Sept. 5. That will bring to a close United’s roughly 18-month experiment at the smaller of Chicago's two commercial airports. "We've had limited customer interest from Midway," United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski tells the Chicago Tribune (free registration). United’s decision follows a similar move by American, which signaled its intent last month to end Midway flights on Sept. 1. Both American and United –- the nation’s two largest airlines -– operate large hubs at O’Hare International, Chicago’s busier airport. Midway, on the other hand, has emerged as a heavily used alternative for the Chicago area, with discounters Southwest, ATA and AirTran combining to carry 88.5% of the passengers there.
“The loss of American, followed by United's departure a few days later, is more symbolic than substantive for the local aviation market,” the Tribune writes, noting the two airlines have hundreds of daily departures from O’Hare but combine for just 10 flights a day at Midway. As for United, it operates at Midway from of one of three gates owned by the city. The airline's departure means Midway may have expanded options for other carriers. "The subsequent change in gate utilization will provide opportunity for additional service expansion at Midway by existing airlines and new entrant carriers," says Chicago Aviation Commissioner Nuria Fernandez.
United’s current Midway schedule features three daily flights to Denver on low-cost unit Ted and two daily flights to Washington Dulles on United Express. United had initially used larger Ted jets on its Washington service, but later scaled back to smaller United Express aircraft. “The decision to shift the Washington market to smaller regional jets was the first acknowledgment that customer interest was not strong,” the Tribune writes.
Photo via AP.