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Mayor Richard M. Daley and Virgin America Airlines officials said today the airline will begin daily non-stop service from O’Hare International Airport to Los Angeles and San Francisco May 25.
“In Chicago, we realize the critical role O’Hare has in the national aviation system. That is why we are fully committed to bringing more airlines to Chicago and to investing in O’Hare’s infrastructure to meet the demands of the 21st century” Daley said in a City Hall news conference.
Virgin America is a California-based airline that began operating in 2007. It has been named “Best Domestic Airline” in the Condé Nast Traveler 2008, 2009 & 2010 Readers’ Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure’s 2008, 2009 & 2010 World's Best Awards.
Daley said Chicago’s airports are critical to the economy of our State and region and that Chicago is thriving at the center of the nation’s aviation system.
Currently, O’Hare offers nonstop service to 198 cities worldwide, with 52 passenger carriers operating out of 189 gates.
“Passenger volume, revenue and cargo tonnage at O’Hare all increased last year over 2009 levels and we expect this upward trend will continue.” the Mayor said.
Chicago’s airports generate nearly $45 billion in economic activity and 540,000 jobs in Chicago, the State of Illinois and the region, and the O’Hare Modernization Program will create up to 195,000 new jobs and add an additional $18 billion to our region’s economy.
“We are pleased to welcome Virgin America’s new service to O’Hare International Airport in May 2011,” said Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino. “As a new entrant carrier to O’Hare, Virgin America brings new competition and service offerings to Chicago’s market, and raises the bar for airline passenger amenities and value.”
With the addition of Virgin America to O’Hare, there is now only one major domestic carrier not serving the Chicago market.
“Chicago’s future economic development depends on bringing new business to Chicago. With the new capacity created at O’Hare by the OMP, we are in a position to aggressively add new airlines with a focus on international carriers, as well as new destinations to our airports,” Daley said.
“We will continue to aggressively compete and capitalize on new passenger and cargo carrier opportunities to attract new business and the potential for additional passengers as well as visitors to our city,” he said.
Last week, an ordinance was introduced into the City Council enabling the City to acquire 11 gates in Terminal 3 at O’Hare from Delta Airlines.
Six of the gates will be leased to American Airlines. The remaining five gates will be available for various airlines on a common use basis. Virgin America will use one of these common use gates.
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