US carrier United Airlines will introduce the first scheduled non-stop service between Chicago and Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, in summer 2014 when it launches an up to daily operation from its hub at O'Hare International Airport, subject to government approval.
The new link will operate between May 22, 2014 and October 5, 2014 and will be flown using a Boeing 757-200 configured with 16 flat-bed seats in United BusinessFirst and 153 in United Economy, including 45 Economy Plus seats.
The Transatlantic link will initially be flown on a five times weekly basis between May 22 and June 11, increasing to daily between June 12 and September 1 and then down to four times weekly between September 2 and October 5.
“We're pleased to add Chicago-to-Edinburgh non-stop service to United's extensive Transatlantic route network. In addition to providing a direct link between the two cities, the new flights are conveniently timed to provide connections in Chicago to and from more than 125 destinations across North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.”Brian Znotins
Vice President of Network, United Airlines
"We're pleased to add Chicago-to-Edinburgh non-stop service to United's extensive Transatlantic route network," said Brian Znotins, vice president of network, United Airlines. "In addition to providing a direct link between the two cities, the new flights are conveniently timed to provide connections in Chicago to and from more than 125 destinations across North, Central and South America and the Caribbean."
According to MIDT data, over 700,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew between Scotland and USA in 2012 with around 40 per cent of these flying from Edinburgh, currently the second largest airport in this market behind big rival Glasgow. In 2012, an estimated 9,000 O&D passengers flew between Edinburgh and Chicago, connecting via destinations such as Amsterdam, Dublin, London, Paris. United already has a 27.0 per cent share of this market via its existing flight to Newark.
The announcement of the new route has been welcomed by Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, who revealed “delight” that United had decided to further invest in services to Scotland. United currently operates year-round nonstop service from its New York hub at Newark Liberty International Airport to Edinburgh as well as Glasgow, having started flights to Scotland in 1998.
By improving direct routes overseas, we can help reduce the need for travellers to make extra connecting flights via London or the continent, support tourism, trade and investment and so further strengthen Scotland's economy,” said Salmond. "The eyes of the world will be on Scotland in 2014 and, as we host international sporting stars at the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup and celebrate another Year of Homecoming, we hope to welcome visitors from across the world, not least from the United States with whom we share strong and enduring bonds."
The announcement of this direct route to Chicago is a fantastic validation of Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole, according to Gordon Dewar, chief executive, Edinburgh Airport given all the work that has been going on behind the scenes to turn this route into a reality. "We are delighted to have played our part in developing this route with the other agencies and Government departments that make up ‘Team Scotland'. This collaborative approach works and we look forward to bringing many more international routes to Edinburgh in the coming months," he said.
This key network announcement follows not long after Edinburgh Airport revealed it is investing £25 million in a significant expansion of the airport's terminal building, creating the foundations of the airport's ambitious growth plans and providing passengers with more space and a new state of the art security area. The new 6,000 square metre facility will be built around a larger security area that will allow passengers to move through that part of the airport faster and more efficiently.
"Our expansion is a significant mark of our intent to transform our customers' experience of Edinburgh Airport through high quality facilities, outstanding customer service and one of the best direct international route networks in Europe,” said Dewar. "This investment is the first of a number of developments that will build Edinburgh Airport's profile around the world, helping us to compete more energetically with other UK airports and those in mainland Europe."
The Board of Edinburgh Airport has committed to investing £150m in Scotland's busiest airport over the next five years to allow it to compete more energetically on the international stage and to ensure that its facilities reflect the predicted growth in passenger numbers. This new £25m terminal expansion is the first major project in an ambitious investment plan. Work will begin in October 2013, with the new security product operational by late 2014. A new retail space will follow in 2015.
"Our experience this summer, with unprecedented numbers of passengers and airlines at Edinburgh, highlights our ongoing need to invest in facilities to meet growing demand and to do so without any taxpayer support,” said Dewar. "We're keenly aware of our responsibility to be the place where Scotland meets the world. This is an investment not just for in the future of the airport, but for Edinburgh and Scotland and we are delighted to play our part in offering a warm welcome and, importantly, great memories of our capital city.
Edinburgh Airport has had its busiest summer on record with August also seeing more than one million people travelling through the airport – a rise of 10.6 per cent on the previous year. Scotland's busiest airport saw a total of 1,035,997 people pass through its terminal in August – the second busiest month ever after reporting a figure of almost 1.1 million in July. Domestic passenger and international passenger numbers for August increased by 10.5 per cent and 10.6 per cent respectively compared to the same period in 2012.