SIOUX CITY | Air travelers flying out of Sioux Gateway Airport will soon have a choice of connecting routes.
American Airlines said Friday it will add direct, non-stop flights from Sioux Gateway to Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport, starting May 5.
Tickets for the daily flights can be purchased, beginning Saturday. One daily flight will be offered, with departures from Dallas at 12:20 p.m. and return trips from Sioux City leaving at 3:12 p.m. A regional partner, American Eagle, will fly 50-seat regional jets.
American, the only carrier at Sioux Gateway, currently flies twice daily to Chicago O'Hare International.
Billy Glunz, regional director for state and local government affairs with American, said Dallas/Ft. Worth is the airline's largest hub, offering access to 800 daily flights with connections to more than 200 markets within the U.S. and two dozen other countries.
"The Sioux Gateway Airport truly is the tri-state area’s gateway to the world," Glunz said at a news conference at City Hall, flanked by local leaders.
Barbara Sloniker, executive director for The Siouxland Initiative, said local leaders had encouraged American to add the Dallas hub ever since American started serving Sioux Gateway in 2012.
The success of the Chicago routes -- 75 to 80 percent of the flights are typically full -- leaves little doubt the Dallas line will also generate sufficient demand, she said.
"We’ve made our case with our flights to Chicago," Sioux Gateway Airport manager Mike Collett added. "American would not be here today if they were not as confident as we were that we could get people on the plane."
Sioux Gateway has been without a direct connection to southern or western hubs since Frontier Airlines halted its thrice-weekly flights to Denver in October 2014, just two months after the low-cost carrier entered the Sioux City market.
Sloniker said American's Dallas hub will give travelers access to west, southeast, southwest and international flights.
She also said the additional route will boost economic development opportunities in the area.
"We all know when meeting with economic development prospects, it’s important for them to get people in and out of the community," she said. "If they want to compete in a global market, they have to have access to a national transportation system and air service.
I think it's just another feather in our cap to promote our growth and the great community we have here," she added.
Collett said the Sioux Gateway Board of Trustees will discuss at a later date whether to offer incentives to American. In the past, for example, the airport has waived landing fees for new airlines.
“It’s just to give them more comfort on starting a new route,” Collett said.
American, the largest U.S. airline, arrived at Sioux Gateway in April 2012, through the Essential Air Service program, which guarantees commercial air travel for small, rural communities. American replaced Delta Airlines, which had flown connecting routes to Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Last month, American told the U.S. Department of Transportation that it would no longer require federal subsidies after its current two-year contract expires on April 30.
The notification abruptly ended a competition bidding process between American and United Airlines for a new two-year contract for the Chicago routes. United asked for $324,159 in subsidies per year, compared to American's request of $1.26 million.