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Dec 23, 2014

United Airlines – Chi-town to Belize Non-stop!

Tourists and Belizean Americans wanting to visit the Jewel from Chicago, Illinois can say goodbye to connecting flights when traveling to Belize. That’s because once a week, at least for now, United Airlines will provide a direct flight from O’Hare International Airport to the P.G.I.A.  News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Chicago and Belize, united. United Airlines has been operating in Belize since 1988 and connects the country to over three hundred and seventy-plus destinations globally. But the airline company added yet another schedule to its list; a direct bridge in the sky between Belize and one of the biggest cities in the U.S….Chicago. As of this past Saturday, a United Airlines plane from Chicago will provide BelAms and tourists with a direct flight to the Jewel. The first ever direct connection between both cities would allow Belize to tap into the tourist population in that Midwest city.

 

Indira Craig

Indira Craig, Country Manager, United Airlines

“America’s third largest city is also known for its richness in architecture, art, culture, commerce, transportation and industry. Chicago’s O’Hare International with its eight runways, serves some sixty-seven million passengers, eight hundred and eighty-five thousand aircrafts and moves some one point four million metric tons of cargo annually. And is one of the world’s greatest ports of call recognized as North America’s best airport on no less than ten occasions. It is our hope that with this flight, United Airlines will not just open the friendly skies for Chicago’s nearly two point seven million residents, but connect seamlessly, our very own Diaspora of Belizean heritage and ancestry and create a new network option that will not just offer more to America’s nearly forty-seven million tourists, but a world as a global carrier; making it yet another route to access and to see the splendor of our Jewel, Belize.”

 

Around twelve-thirty, the inaugural iron bird touched down at the Phillip Goldson International Airport, where it was welcomed by staff of United Airlines and its guests. The flight was given the traditional welcome which featured the aircraft being sprayed by water courtesy of the national fire service. After landing, the crew, and its one hundred and fifty-four passengers disembarked and a brief ceremony was held inside the VIP room.

 

The flight will assist with the increasing numbers in overnight tourists, says C.E.O. in the Ministry of Tourism, Tracy Taegar-Panton, and it’s efforts like these that will continue to boost the tourism industry.

 

Tracy Taeger-Panton

Tracy Taeger-Panton, C.E.O., Ministry of Tourism

“The airline sector is the lifeline for tourism in Belize. Without air service, we are unable to bring visitors. So from that standpoint, certainly, it is a significant step into the right direction. But also it opens the entire Midwest of the United States. We have the eastern seaboard covered, but the Midwest is also a huge market for us and this will make travel to Belize more convenient.”

 

But earlier this month, Southwest Airlines announced that starting October 2015, it will begin direct flights to six new destinations, including Belize. So will this affect business for United Airlines?

 

Indira Craig

“Sometimes you think that one way of getting to a destination is more efficient, but you find that there are others ways of reaching a destination that can be more efficient. So it is really to tap into new markets to offer an alternative, to offer something different and to add on to what it is that we already have.”

 

Reporter

“Now Southwest Airlines has announced that they are coming to Belize and we understand that this could affect the market or the profitability of your airline. What’s your reaction to knowing that this is coming?”

 

Indira Craig

“I think just by virtue of hearing that there is another airline coming into your market and that is going to cater to your demographic, I think it initially puts a scare in people or to at least have it seem as if though it is going to be a bad thing. I think that for them it is stimulation of the market and so I don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing. We have a ten percent rate of overlapping. What they do in terms of their destination is very different from what we do and I think that if you look at the fact that likewise we are an international carrier and we cater globally, we fly globally. Where they fly primarily within the U.S, you would realize that in as much as it is something to keep an eye on, for us, we are in New York, we are now in Chicago; we are global.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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