BANGOR, Maine — More than 20 years after leaving Bangor, United Airlines is coming back to provide nonstop seasonal services to Chicago O’Hare International Airport, a Bangor International Airport official announced Monday.
“It’s great to have United back in this market, especially with a destination such as Chicago,” Airport Director Tony Caruso said.
The Chicago-Bangor flight is scheduled to make its debut June 5 and run through Dec. 2. During that time, there will a 1:10 p.m. flight from Chicago to Bangor, with a return flight from Bangor to Chicago at 5:15 p.m. United will add a second daily flight from July 1 through Aug. 31. That will leave Chicago at 7 p.m., with a return flight from Bangor leaving at 6:45 the next morning, according to Caruso.
The plane used on the route will be a Bombardier CRJ700, which holds up to six first-class passengers and 64 coach passengers.
According to United’s website, round-trip fares will range from about $400 to $500, depending on the season. The projected prices decreased several times after the route was announced Monday.
United pulled out of Bangor’s airport in 1993, about a decade after introducing Chicago flights to BGR. At the time, the airline cited low passenger turnouts for year-round flights, especially in the winter, but the planes it used then had about double the seating capacity as the regional jets United plans to use today.
The airline also saw difficult financial times in the early part of that decade, having chopped more than $1.1 billion from its budget in 1992 and the 1st quarter of 1993. That meant abandoning several smaller airports.
“There have been too many planes chasing too few passengers,” Bob Ziegelaar, then-director of BGR, said at the time.
“We’re certainly very hopeful that the traveling public will respond very well to having Chicago service back again,” Caruso said.
The flights will provide direct service to the Midwestern U.S. hub and a waypoint for people heading farther west and to Asian markets. If the routes prove successful, United could decide to make them year-round, add flights, or add service from Bangor to more destinations.
In 2010, Bangor received a $500,000 grant to help court United to return and provide service to Chicago or Washington, D.C. Bangor was one of 19 recipients of awards under the Small Community Air Service Development Program.
The grant provided what is known as a minimum revenue guarantee for United Airlines to provide air service using regional jet aircraft between BGR and Chicago O’Hare International Airport or Washington Dulles International Airport. That guarantee is money set aside to reduce an airline’s risk in entering a new market. If revenues do not cover operating expenses, the airline will use the funds from the minimum revenue guarantee to make up the difference.
Bangor’s airport last received a Small Community Air Service Development Program grant in 2005. That money was used to promote the introduction of Allegiant’s low-cost service to Sanford, Fla., near Orlando. Since that time, Allegiant has expanded its service to add several new routes and flights to the Southeast.
Caruso said he and United believe the returning United service will be popular.