American launches Sioux Gateway service
Journal photo by Laura Wehde Sioux Gateway Airport Director Curt Miller and his administrative assistant, Marna Samuel, right, present passenger Tillie Witt, of Muskegon, Mich., with a commemorative Fly SUX baggage tag and a certificate Tuesday as Witt goes through security for American Eagle’s inaugural flight to Chicago.
Video: American Airlines takes flight from SUXVideo footage of American Airlines’ ceremony celebrating its inaugural flight from Sioux City to Chicago.
American jet replicas
At a public ceremony Thursday, Gary Foss, managing director of American Airlines Network Planning, handed out two miniature replicas of the regional jets American Eagle is now flying at Sioux Gateway Airport.
One was presented to Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott. The other was given to Siouxland Chamber of Commerce vice president Barbara Sloniker.
Foss credited Sloniker, who has also served as the airport marketing director, with playing a major role in bringing the airline to Sioux City.
SIOUX CITY — Sisters Jordan, 9, and Brooke Rendzio, 8, gave their grandmother, Susan Jones, a big hug Thursday as the Sioux City woman greeted them at the security entrance at Sioux Gateway Airport.
Jordan and Brooke, who traveled with their mother, Lisa, from their home in Poolsville, Md., were aboard American Eagle’s inaugural flight from Chicago to Sioux City.
The girls expressed surprise at all the hoopla surrounding the first flight. Like other passengers, they received commemorative baggage tags bearing American’s name and logo and Sioux Gateway’s well-known slogan, “Fly SUX.”
At a reception in the terminal, the public was treated to iced tea, lemonade and cake decorated with a miniature American jet and local landmarks that included the Sgt. Floyd Monument.
“I think it’s kind of nice,” Jordan said of the public welcome.
American Eagle’s first arrival from Chicago, Flight 4210, landed at Sioux Gateway at 2:51 p.m., four minutes ahead of schedule.
The first return trip left Sioux City at 3:25 p.m. and touched down at O’Hare International Airport at 4:45 p.m. The 44-seat regional jet was nearly full.
After arriving in Chicago, some passengers, including Jeff Cox, were scheduled to make connections to American’s hub in Dallas-Forth Worth, where multiple tornadoes touched down Thursday, resulting in extensive damage.
“Things are pretty messed up there right now,” said Cox, as he watched Fox News coverage of the Texas storms on a TV monitor in the Sioux Gateway terminal. Cox was flying back to his home in San Antonio after delivering trucks to a Sioux City dealership.
Gary Foss, managing director of American Airlines network planning, who traveled to Sioux City to help launch the airline’s new service, also kept close tabs on the weather in Dallas-Fort Worth.
“American’s headquarters were just evacuated,” Foss said after seeing one news bulletin. “That’s the building where I work.”
Eagle, which flies regional routes for its parent airline, replaces Delta Air Lines as the lone carrier at Sioux Gateway. Delta flew its last connecting route to Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport early Tuesday morning.
Eagle last fall won a $1.51 million federal subsidy to serve Sioux City for the next two years. With Chicago topping the list of destination for its leisure and business travelers, Sioux Gateway leaders endorsed Eagle’s bid for the Essential Air Service contract over a competing proposal from Delta.
Local officials were impressed by American’s promise to consider adding a second hub, such as Dallas-Fort Worth.
“We’re not there yet,” Dan Kaplan, president of the Sioux Gateway Board of Trustees, told more than 35 local leaders who gathered for the reception in the terminal. “We need to first have success on this Chicago leg. I know we can do it.”
Foss noted American’s first daily flight to Chicago departs Sioux Gateway at 6:35 a.m., and the last flight of the day returns to Sioux City at 9 p.m., allowing business travelers to “be back in your bed” after a full day of meetings in Chicago.
From O’Hare, one of the nation’s busiest hubs, American offers connections to some 250 cities and 40 countries, he said.
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