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The past two months have been instrumental for the development and growth initiatives of Rochester International Airport (RST) to continue to competitively serve southeastern Minnesota’s air travel needs. In early June, United Airlines opened shop in RST, offering a brand new nonstop flight to Chicago O’Hare (ORD). Over the course of the summer, additional flights were added by current carrier Delta Air Lines, creating increased opportunities for business travel out of RST and enhancing accessibility of the city to the global workforce.
RST currently supports three airlines: Delta, American Airlines, and the recently added United Airlines. The inaugural United Airlines flight between Rochester and Chicago took place on June 8th, creating three daily flights between Rochester and Chicago and increasing the airport’s affordability and flight offerings compared with its closest competitor, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). This month, Delta added a second daily flight to the Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and a fourth daily flight to MSP. American Airlines will continue its three daily flights between RST and ORD airports.
The five additional flights added by RST this summer increase service by 65%, creating thirteen total daily flights and adding an additional 100,000 annual seats. RST hopes to add a westbound flight- hopefully to Denver or Dallas hubs- soon to further increase the capabilities of the airport and make it “one connection away from international travel to destinations in South America,” stated John Reed, Executive Director of Rochester International Airport.
“The increased RST flights give me significantly more options to conveniently fly for both work and family events. Seeing so many more RST flights is definitely worth celebrating!” explained Nate Nordstrom, Rochester entrepreneur and Founder of BrandHoot, a website and app design company.
The national and global accessibility created by these new flight offerings is a key piece to maintain Rochester’s status in the increasingly global economy. In addition, seventy-six Rochester companies and startups have pledged to keep business local and utilize RST for business and recreational travel as part of a “Fly Local” campaign.
Increased flights and attraction of new airlines are positive signs for the Destination Medical Center- a twenty year $5.6B economic development project to make Rochester a destination medical city- and additional business development initiatives taking place in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota.
“Rochester is fortunate to have an international airport just ten minutes from downtown. As we continue to add flight and airline options, direct travel to our community becomes easier and more appealing for everyone exploring business opportunities here,” said Patrick Seeb, Director of Economic Development and Placemaking at Destination Medical Center. “Because many companies today are national, if not global, our air services must make access to Rochester as convenient as possible to maximize attraction and retention of businesses here.”
Attention is turning toward Rochester and the potential professional opportunities the city can offer now and in its expanding future.
“Network airlines are just not growing overall capacity these days. Rochester has to compete for air service with communities across the country. When service is added here it means a different community has lost that service and that plane,” explained Reed. “By choosing to Fly Local, we as a community will prove to the airlines they will have success by choosing to bring in additional routes to serve southeast MN.”