Muskegon airport changing Chicago flight schedule
The Chicago flight schedule for an airport in the region is changing in response to customer feedback.
Starting Oct. 5, United Airlines is offering a more “travel-friendly” schedule for the one-hour, twice-daily flights between Muskegon County Airport (MKG) and Chicago O’Hare (ORD), which are the only flights offered at the Muskegon airport.
The new schedule provides earlier departures from Muskegon and later departures from Chicago.
“The lack of an early morning departure has been the primary issue identified by business travelers for use of alternate airports,” said Jeffrey Tripp, manager, Muskegon County Airport.
The new schedule includes daily departures from Muskegon at 6 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. ET, with daily departures from Chicago at noon and 7 p.m. CT.
Current scheduling includes daily departures from Muskegon at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, with daily departures from Chicago at 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. CT.
Adjusting timing will provide “maximum opportunity for flight connections,” the airport said, which means lower prices for travelers.
But the new schedule may not remain without sufficient use, Tripp said.
Tripp said airlines regularly modify their schedules to meet market needs and maximize profitability.
He said filling the two daily flights with at least 80 customers per day will “positively impact our ability to retain this new schedule.”
“Maximizing use of the new flights is the first step toward potentially additional flights and destinations in the future,” Tripp said.
He said the airport has been promoting its services through area chambers of commerce, media outlets, direct marketing to area businesses, social media and radio.
The airport is also working with area festivals, such as Electric Forest, Jazz Festival, Irish Festival and Unity Festival, to inform potential attendees, staff and musical acts about flights into Muskegon.
The marketing and the positive economy are what Tripp credits to the record passenger number since United Airlines started offering Muskegon flights in mid-2009.
The airport saw a 29-percent increase in June, with 4,445 total passengers, and a 14-percent increase in July, with 5,013 total passengers.
Tripp hopes the continued marketing efforts will keep the momentum going through the winter, which is typically a slower season.
“We anticipate seeing a resurgence of local business travelers once the new schedule starts,” Tripp said. “We continue to receive very positive feedback and excitement from the business community at large for the new schedule.”