CHICAGO — O’Hare International Airport just landed a new airline, after Southwest Airlines announced plans to add service to the Northwest Side by the middle of 2021.
The airline which has served Midway Airport since 1985 announced their expansion on Twitter Monday morning, and just may pick up additional customers who avoided the airline because they wanted to avoid the traffic on the Stevenson.
“I feel like I never really flew Southwest much in the first place… mainly because it’s Midway,” passenger Emily Coughlin said.
DePaul University professor of transportation Joe Schwieterman says the move could force major airlines like United and American to be more competitive.
“This is one of the biggest competitive moves in years,” Schwieterman said. “They’re going to shoehorn their way into an airport that already has two major hubs – United and American – it really is going to change the mix.”
Southwest customers applauded the idea at Midway, and at O’Hare the sentiment was the same.
“It’s nice having that option so I can go other places and not fly other airlines; I prefer to fly Southwest,” passenger Paula Serafini said.
Jeff Evans is from the southwest suburbs, but says Southwest’s announcement is a win for travelers in the entire city.
“It’ll probably be more convenient for the city, it’ll probably be a lot less traffic during rush hour, probably easier for the commutes and stuff like that,” Evans said.
The pandemic and resulting loss of business across the whole air travel industry led to open gates at O’Hare, although the gate locations and destinations are still being worked out.
A spokesman for the Chicago Department of Aviation said in a written statement:
“Chicago is one of the strongest and most competitive airport markets in the world, and we are always eager to work with our existing airlines and new entrants on enhancing the service they offer to travelers.”