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Southwest Airlines resumes nonstop service between Rochester and Chicago

Southwest Airlines plane
Stephen M Keller
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Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines

Travelers can once again fly Southwest nonstop from Rochester to Chicago.

The Windy City is the sixth largest market for the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport, by travel volume. But Southwest discontinued the direct route to Chicago Midway International Airport in late 2015.

Since that time, travelers connected through Baltimore. However, that left them without connections to Seattle, Portland, Sacramento and more than a dozen other destinations out west.

Assistant Airport Director Steve Barz said that was a selling point in restoring service as airline travel continues to rebound.

“We're starting to see more and more business travel coming back which is where it's been lagging," Barz said. "The leisure travel is back, people want to get away, they want to get out, they want to go on vacation.”

And Rochester’s passenger totals are more than double what they were in the first quarter of last year. And there are more options.

The airport added low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines last year. Spirit Airlines will join this fall.

Southwest’s nonstop service to and from Chicago is offered twice daily, except on Saturdays.

roc to chicago airport southwest.jpg
Monroe County
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Office of County Executive Adam Bello

Brian Sharp is WXXI's business and development reporter. He has been covering Rochester since 2005, working most of that time as an investigative reporter with the Democrat and Chronicle. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.