U of I Willard Airport picks up three daily flights to Chicago
More domestic flights will be offered at University of Illinois Willard Airport as part of United Airlines’ domestic expansion. Beginning June 8, passengers can fly to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport from Willard.
“The majority of the people on these flights will be people doing business,” Airport executive director Gene Cossey told Chambana Sun. “About one third of the business is related to the University.”
Three flights a day to Chicago will be added to the schedule and provide, “more convenience and more ease,” to business travelers.
“Economically, its a good addition to what we already have here,” Cossey said. “It reflects United’s confidence in the Champaign-Urbana business market.”
The addition of the United flights will help Willard meet the higher demand for domestic service. Prior to the announcement from United, only American Airlines offered flights to O’Hare.
Cossey is confident more flights will help stabilize airline prices in the long run.
While the majority of passengers are expected to be business people, Cossey said he does also expect to see a few leisure travelers, mostly traveling alone or with one other person. Larger families will likely still look to fly out of larger airports.
"More growth will lead to more leisure options," Cossey said.
He urges people to consider the Champaign airport when booking flights instead of driving longer distances. The nearest international airport to Champaign is Peoria International Airport which offers a fairly limited selection of flights and is about an hour and a half drive away. O’Hare is more than a two-hour drive from Champaign and St. Louis Lambert International Airport is a nearly three-hour drive.
The Chicago Tribune reported United hopes to fill some seats with people looking to connect to other flights at O’Hare. The airline will also be adding flights to Columbia, Mo. and Rochester, Minn.
The facility is named after a past president of the university, Arthur Cutts Willard. During his tenure, he was one of the driving forces behind the founding of the aviation program at the school.
Currently, the airport offers training research opportunities through the University of Illinois Institute of Aviation.