The ‘Eagle’ Has Landed

North country celebrates jet service connecting to Chicago

Photo: Jefferson County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann III addresses a packed hangar on Nov. 17 at Jefferson County International Airport. American Eagle began jet service between Watertown and Chicago last month. Photo by Justin Sorensen.

By Nancy Madsen
NNY Business

American Eagle Airlines’ direct service from Jefferson County to Chicago gives hope for easy travel for business travelers and economic growth for the region.

American Eagle began flying 44-seat Embraer ERJ-140 aircraft between Watertown International Airport, Dexter, and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Nov. 17.

The air service to Chicago provides many businesses with expanded national and international travel options. The aircraft are much larger than the nine-seat planes Cape Air flew from Albany to Watertown and back.

“I could see how it will assist companies that do international travel,” said David J. Malone, chairman of the Greater Watertown- North Country Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors. “Travelers will save on parking cost compared to other New York airports and for businesses to have the travel option right out of Watertown makes it very convenient.”

During the winter, the local airport will enable travelers to avoid driving through lake effect snow bands that frequently cause treacherous travel on Interstate 81 between Watertown and Syracuse.

“Stebbins (Engineering) has a number of vendors in the Chicago area and this service will really assist us in streamlining our travel and minimizing the cost with vendors,” Mr. Malone, who works at Stebbins, said. “Also, because of the Chicago connection, we’re also looking at options to travel into South America and Canada and the western states because we expect it to be a lot more cost-effective.”

Other businesses with international accounts have said the new service will shorten travel time and ease global travel. For personal travel, Mr. Malone booked a three-person trip to San Diego through Chicago that cost less than $1,000.

“It was extremely cost-effective,” he said.

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