What a difference a year makes.
Last spring, Joplin lost its American Airlines connection to Chicago, and last summer there was a time when we thought we would lose the flights to Dallas.
That wasn’t on us, by the way. Blame COVID-19.
Joplin’s airport was rocking before the pandemic and was hitting numbers that hadn’t been seen in 30 years.
This spring, we learned we will have flights beginning June 1 under the United brand of SkyWest Airlines to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, to Denver International Airport and now George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. The latter hub, announced this week, opens up destinations in the southern and southeast part of the United States as well as Mexico.
We’ve had three hubs before — St Louis, Memphis and Dallas — but that was 25 years ago, so long ago in fact that none of those three airlines — Trans-States, Northwest and Lone Star — are in business today.
“This is an exciting time with three great hubs for the Joplin market,” airport Manager Steve Stockam said in a statement this week announcing the Houston flights.
We agree, and we appreciate all the work it took to land those three destinations.
Stockam also told us that United sees value in the way American had priced the market, and he suspects the pricing won’t change much from what American priced.
The new flights are subsidized, of course, through the federal government’s Essential Air Service program, with a subsidy of more than $1.22 million the first year, nearly $796,000 the second and more than $498,000 the third.
The contract for service will run for three years.
The new flights begin June 1.
COVID-19 won’t last forever. We encourage area residents to consider using the Joplin Regional Airport.
You now have three good reasons to do so.