Budzinski, Durbin, Duckworth Push for Improved Service at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (IL-13) and Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth sent a letter to leadership at American Airlines outlining concerns with the quality of routes offered to and from Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield. In their letter, the lawmakers urge the airline to make the available flight options more convenient for passengers to reach Chicago and connecting flights. 

“We write to express our concerns with the quality of the routes that American Airlines operates to and from Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport (SPI) in Springfield, Illinois. Having convenient and efficient routes from SPI is essential to the Central Illinois region’s quality of life and the longevity of the airport itself – a key economic driver in the community,” wrote the lawmakers.

Recent reductions in flight offerings from American Airlines and United Airlines have left the airport with only four airline routes: two daily American Airlines flights to and from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and two other carriers’ routes to three destinations in Florida. American Airlines’ flight options to Chicago at 2:18 p.m. and 6:27 p.m. make it difficult for passengers to reach business needs in Chicago or make connections to other flights.

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Mr. Robert Isom

Chief Executive Officer 

American Airlines

1 Skyview Drive

Fort Worth, Texas 76155

Mr. Isom: 

We write to express our concerns with the quality of the routes that American Airlines operates to and from Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport (SPI) in Springfield, Illinois. Having convenient and efficient routes from SPI is essential to the Central Illinois region’s quality of life and the longevity of the airport itself – a key economic driver in the community.

As you know, United Airlines’ decision to cease operations at SPI in June 2023 and American Airlines’ decision to cut its daily flight between SPI and Dallas-Fort Worth in the same time period has left the airport with only four airline routes: American’s flights to and from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and two other carriers’ routes to three destinations in Florida. This, in turn, has impacted Springfield’s ability to continue its course of strong economic development.

Perhaps most importantly, in addition to a low volume of routes, American’s flights from SPI to ORD are scheduled at inconvenient times for a passenger hoping to catch a connecting flight to a final destination outside of Chicago.

As currently scheduled, there are two flights per day from SPI to ORD: the first scheduled for 2:18pm; the second scheduled for 6:27pm. Neither of these flight times are conducive for travelers who need to be in Chicago for business in the morning nor are they convenient for travelers hoping to catch a connection through ORD. Judging the success of these routes in their current time slots does not accurately reflect demand in the area, and we ask that the routes be changed as soon as possible to increase convenience for the consumer.

It should also be noted that the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport does all ground handling for American Airlines at SPI at a relatively low cost to the airline. The airport is also engaging the airline to re-work their lease this year to further lower their costs at SPI.

Lastly, Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary with the community, has taken major steps in recent years to leverage tens of millions in federal funds to invest in its infrastructure for the decades to come. The airport has an annual total economic impact of nearly $400 million, with more than 2,600 jobs on the property and airport visitor spending of $33 million. SPI was also awarded a Small Community Air Service Grant in 2023, a portion of which will be used to market the American Airlines route to ORD. It is important that SPI’s passenger airline partners, including American Airlines, make full use of these investments and provide the Central Illinois community with robust, convenient passenger air service.

We look forward to working with you to ensure that Central Illinois’ travelers’ needs are met and that Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport remains in a position to continue making critical investments in our community’s infrastructure.

Sincerely, 

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