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Published: Thursday, 6/23/2011

New Toledo-Chicago flight eyed at Toledo Express

Toledo Express Airport. Toledo Express Airport.
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An American Airlines affiliate could add a fourth daily commuter flight to American’s Toledo-Chicago route if it accepts a $200,000 incentive offer approved Thursday morning by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority’s board of directors.

The port authority plan, a product of negotiations with the airline, calls for a morning flight arriving in Toledo from Chicago at 9:55 a.m., with a return departure from Toledo Express Airport 40 minutes later.

The new flight would provide Toledo with earlier-morning connections from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and offer a mid-morning departure and additional capacity on a route that port officials say is performing well. Last month, the Toledo-Chicago flights flew more than 80 percent full.

In approving the incentive by a 12-0 vote, with Brian Bucher absent, port directors said they hope success on the route will attract other airlines to establish or restore flights at Toledo Express, which in the past seven years has lost nearly all of its daily service to major air hubs — all of it except for the O’Hare service.

Port spokesman Carla Firestone Nowak said afterward that if American approves the deal, the new flight likely would start in late summer or early fall. The proposal allows the airline to reduce the new flight to four days per week — skipping Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, which officials say are relatively light days for business travel — between November and March. The incentive would be paid on a monthly basis, about $16,700 per month, so that if the airline cancelled the new flight before a year passed, it would not be paid for the unflown months.

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