It’s really pretty simple, businesses tend to go where they think the customers are. The airlines are no different, and a community receives the air service it supports. A recent announcement at the South Bend International Airport (SBN) should have us all encouraged about the future of the Airport.
American Airlines is coming back to South Bend. The airline recently announced twice daily flights from South Bend to American hubs in Dallas/Ft. Worth and Charlotte beginning June 7. Tickets are on sale now.
Governor Eric Holcomb was in town to help make the announcement. The Governor has been spending a lot of time at airports recently, making similar announcements in Indianapolis, Ft. Wayne, and Evansville. New connections have been an important priority of the Governor and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. The Governor highlighted that priority in the budget that was passed in 2017 and in his January 9 State of the State address.
With the addition of the new flights, South Bend now will offer eighteen daily flights to the busiest airports in the world. Tripsavvy ranks Atlanta the busiest in the Country (four flights daily); Chicago-O’Hare the second busiest (four flights daily); Dallas-Ft. Worth the fourth busiest (two flights daily); Charlotte-Douglas the eleventh busiest (two flights daily) New York (Newark-Liberty the fourteenth busiest (one flight daily); Minneapolis the sixteenth busiest (one flight daily), and Detroit, the seventeenth busiest, (four flights daily).
Those connections include two United Airlines Hubs, three Delta Airlines Hubs, and two American Hubs. That means the South Bend Region is only one stop from anywhere in the world.
In addition, special weekly flights to tourist destinations like Las Vegas, Phoenix (Mesa), Orlando, Tampa, and Ft. Myers offer other easy get-a-way opportunities.
The State of Indiana and the St. Joseph County Airport Authority played critical roles in the attraction of these new flights. The Governor proclaimed that “not even the sky is the limit anymore” as he was touting the key role these connections play in attracting new people and development to Indiana.
The American announcement is many years in the making and a product of the good work by the teams at SBN and American. But it also goes beyond that.
The people from our area also deserve a fair amount of credit. People from our region have responded in recent years when new flights were added to places like Denver or Newark. The success of those routes, as well as the others from SBN have helped cause American take notice. And they are banking on residents here finding these new routes as great gateways to the southeast, southwest, and west.
The truth though is more people from our region still fly to/from other airports as they do to/from South Bend. Our proximity to Chicago means Midway and O’Hare are both realistic options for travelers.
Past criticisms of flying SBN have often focused on reliability. A concerted effort by the airport and the airlines have improved this significantly in recent years, but some people have long memories. I’m hoping they’ll give SBN another try on their next trip, my experiences coming and going from there have been very good.
It comes down to a choice to support the local economy versus the Chicago economy. When we spend our dollars here, it has a great economic impact here and helps with efforts to secure connections to other destinations. When we spend our dollars in Chicago, the Chicago economy feels the net benefits of those dollars you invest.
Where do you want to have the most impact?