Staff file photo / Chattanooga Airport travelers will be able to fly nonstop between the city and Houston starting Oct. 1. A United Airlines plane is shown here at Lovell Field.

Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport has landed new nonstop service to Houston, and Lovell Field has regained flights to Chicago as well.

One round-trip per day between Chattanooga and Houston will start Oct. 1 on United Airline's regional partner SkyWest, according to the airport.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston is seen as a gateway to hundreds of domestic and international destinations including Denver and San Francisco, said Terry Hart, president and chief executive of Chattanooga Airport.

"The addition of a Houston flight adds a new layer of convenience for business travelers and excitement for our leisure travelers," he said. "We very much appreciate this opportunity to strengthen our partnership with United and SkyWest."

The daily incoming flight from Houston arrives in Chattanooga at 5:18 p.m. The departure time to Houston is 5:48 p.m., according to Lovell Field.

The new nonstop service will be the second to Texas from the Chattanooga airport, which already has flights to Dallas-Fort Worth on American Airlines.

Meanwhile, the Chicago flights will restart on Oct. 1. between Chattanooga and O'Hare International Airport with two daily roundtrip flights.

In June, United Airlines announced it was cutting service in Chattanooga starting in July and lasting at least through September due to the downturn in travelers nationally from the coronavirus.

Airport officials said air traffic was rebounding slowly from the sharp drop over the past several months. This summer, the Airport Authority approved a new annual budget with revenues expecting to plunge 38% from the current spending plan.

Airport boardings were down 86.3% in May compared to a year ago, according to Lovell Field, with just 6,843 passengers getting on a plane. Passenger boardings in Chattanooga were down nearly 95% in April from the same month in 2019.

United had returned to Chattanooga in 2017 after a 15-year absence.

Charles Wood, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of economic development, said the airport plays a critical role in supporting new business recruitment and expansion efforts.

"The Chattanooga Airport brings tremendous value to our region by offering convenient travel for businesses considering relocation or expansion opportunities," he said.

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