Travelers looking to fly from South Bend to the East Coast now have a new option. South Bend International Airport saw its first flight take off this morning for the New York City metro area.
The new United Airlines direct flights between South Bend and Newark Liberty International Airport are operated by Express Jet, a regional carrier. A maximum of 50 passengers can ride in the jets.
It is expected that the flights will take about two hours. Newark International is a 30 minute drive from Lower Manhattan, depending on traffic.
Airport officials have sought a direct flight to the nation’s largest metro area for several years. Local leaders argue that the connection could potentially bring new business to the region and have an economic impact of several million dollars.
“South Bend Airport is a key economic driver of our local economy,” St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners President Andrew Kostielney said at the route’s announcement in July. “[The airport] generates close to $1.7 billion dollars annually and the hope is, with fifteen thousand more seats available, that will bring in an additional fifty million dollars each year.”