MASON CITY, Iowa - Up until recently, if you wanted to catch larger jet service, it would've meant driving some distance.
That all changed when United Express service, under the operation of SkyWest, began offering daily flights to Chicago O'Hare from Mason City Municipal Airport on March 1.
Since the start of service, Airport Manager David Sims has noted that passenger count has gone up, with numbers over the course of the last three weeks surpassing February's numbers, and are projected to reach around 400 at the end of the month. Despite the pandemic still in full swing, Sims is pleased with the numbers.
"Just a year ago, if you looked in our parking lot, you would've only seen two cars other than employees. Now, there are two dozen cars out there and growing every day."
In addition, the timing of the start of service began right before Spring Break.
"Over the Spring Break holiday, we did see a big surge of travelers. We had numerous flights that had more than 20 people on board each flight, which was something we could not have done with the previous carrier and their 8-seat aircraft."
If you're wanting to catch a roundtrip flight to O'Hare, the cost for a ticket runs about $163, which Sims says is pretty comparable to Des Moines.