So, what does United’s departure mean for the Erie region?
Local leaders explained how this will affect the economic growth of the region.
With United Airlines suspending service to the Erie International Airport, profits are expected to shift around the region.
“It was certainly a big surprise this morning when I heard about that and it’s definitely a concern. My hope is it’s a short-term concern,” said Mayor Joe Schember, City of Erie.
“A surprise” not only to the mayor, but also to the rest of the Erie region as it prepares for an economic shift.
“Our economic vitality and our economic development efforts really rely on reliable air service and so this is really disappointing,” said James Grunke, president & CEO of the Erie Regional Chamber & Growth Partnership.
Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership is the voice of the business community of Erie. This cut limits the partnership’s ability for them to attract companies and expand due to not having direct contact to them.
“It just makes it more challenging.” Grunke said. “It’s one flight to anywhere in the world when you go to Chicago. Now, we don’t have that opportunity. It’s just going to be driving Erie residents to other communities to meet their air service needs.”
The president of VisitErie said that although this will have a negative impact, the majority of visitors travel to Erie by roadway.
“The airport losing the United will have minimal impact on our leisure market, but it will definitely impede our ability to attract conventions,” said John Oliver, president & CEO of VisitErie.
Conventions including group businesses like sporting events and tournaments that bring thousands of visitors and money to the region will be more difficult to engage.
Oliver said that VisitErie is disappointed to see United go.
“Over the long term I do believe they’ll get us some good connections and it will be successful, maybe even better than what we’ve had up to this point,” Mayor Schember went on to say.
The CEO of the partnership said if ERI does end up getting a new carrier in, then it’s important for people to fly on it. He said they need the airline to be successful to grow our market.