Redmond Airport announced Wednesday that United Airlines will offer direct daily service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport beginning June 6.

The new seasonal nonstop flight will depart daily from Redmond at 11:45 p.m., arriving in Chicago at 5:15 a.m. Flights to Redmond will leave Chicago at 7:30 p.m., arriving in Redmond at 9:45 p.m.

The new flight will make Chicago the furthest point east passengers can travel direct from Redmond Airport.

“It allows travelers a lot more connectivity to East Coast and international flights,” said Zachary Bass, Redmond Airport manager.

Redmond Airport was among 11 new routes from United Airlines hubs in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., the airline announced Wednesday.

Eugene Airport was on the list of new United Airlines routes and will also have direct flights to Chicago.

Bass credits the Central Oregon Air Service Team, a group of airport staff and local visitor associations and chambers of commerce members, for successfully presenting the idea of adding a Chicago route to United Airlines.

The team, which includes Bass, shared data with United Airlines showing the steady growth of the region and the airport. In the past two years, the number of passengers departing and arriving at Redmond Airport increased about 20 percent, from 579,636 to 825,132 passengers.

“We painted a complete picture of what our needs are for Central Oregon,” Bass said.

As Central Oregon’s population continues to grow and gain popularity as a tourism destination, Redmond Airport is planning for additional direct destinations for business and vacation travelers, he said.

“It’s an exciting time,” Bass said. “We are seeing our smaller airport grow into a good-sized regional airport.”

Kevney Dugan, executive director at Visit Bend and a member of the Central Oregon Air Service Team, said it’s encouraging to have a major airline such as United Airlines see the region as a viable option to expand service.

Dugan and others on the air service team were eagerly waiting to hear the announcement from United Airlines.

“It wasn’t completely unexpected because it was something we were aware of,” he said.

Redmond Airport already has direct routes to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Denver.

But adding a direct route to Chicago opens up new opportunities in the Midwest for business and leisure travel, Dugan said.

Central Oregon is a destination that regularly competes with similar cities such as Bozeman, Montana, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which have direct routes to the Midwest and East Coast. Now, Central Oregon can connect just as easily, Dugan said.

Dugan, a native of Michigan, said he expects to see an uptick in tourists from the Midwest now that there is direct access.

Central Oregon has similar outdoor recreation and a traditional four seasons that attract visitors from the Midwest.

“It really plays well to what Central Oregon’s strengths are,” Dugan said.

Each direct flight to and from Chicago will be on an Embraer 175 series aircraft, which accommodates up to 76 passengers. Twelve recliner seats are in first class, 16 seats are in the premium economy-­lite section and 48 seats are in coach.

Tickets for the direct flights are now available for purchase.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com

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