Hays city officials have confirmed Skywest/United will begin offering a round-trip Chicago flight, and booking is expected to begin April 9.
The city received official notice from the airline Monday, and City Manager Toby Dougherty announced the news at that evening’s city commission meeting.
“For the flying public, the early morning flight, the late-night arrival are still roughly the same,” Dougherty said. “The mid-day turnaround will be a little bit more advantageous for the flyer. It will happen a little earlier in the day than it did before.”
A late morning flight will leave Chicago and arrive in Hays by 2 p.m. Denver flights also will continue, with another flight coming from Denver and stopping by Hays en route to Chicago, arriving around 5 p.m., he said.
Skywest currently provides only round-trip service between Hays and Denver.
Melissa Dixon, executive director of the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the news was “very exciting.”
The CVB — with support of local government and other agencies and businesses — was involved in drafting the proposal for up-line scheduling that will offer a continuous flight between Hays, Salina and Chicago. Dixon said she now hopes the CVB can assist the airline in promoting the upcoming schedule.
“Our goal at the airport is always 10,000 departures, and we were short by maybe 129 this year, a very small number,” she said. “I’m very confident the airport will hit that mark and earn that extra funding next year.”
If the airport achieves 10,000 passengers in one year’s time, it will be eligible for $1 million in federal funding. If boarding numbers miss the mark, only $150,000 is guaranteed. Hays Regional Airport last achieved the goal in 2012.