HARLINGEN, Texas – American Airlines will commence nonstop Saturday flights between Chicago/O’Hare and Harlingen starting March 6, 2021.

Marv Esterly, director of aviation at Valley International Airport in Harlingen, made the announcement.

“Valley International Airport would like to thank American Airlines, once again, for believing in the citizens of the Rio Grande Valley and our airport,” Esterly said.

“Since American Airlines returned to Valley International Airport in March of 2018 they have continued to expand their service with larger aircraft offering dual class service and now a second non-stop destination to their Chicago hub.”

Esterly said the flight will depart Harlingen on Saturdays at 2:00pm arriving in Chicago at 5:20pm. Return flight departs Chicago at 9:05am arriving at 12:50pm in Harlingen. 

Esterly said both flights will be operated by SkyWest Airlines using a regional jet with dual class service. He said it will offer greater connecting options for the American customers in the Rio Grande Valley.

The flight is currently available for purchase on the AA.com website. 

“This added nonstop service to a second American Airline hub will offer single connecting service to markets that currently require a double connection via Dallas/Ft. Worth,” said Jose A. Mulet, director of air service development at VIA.

“In addition, it will offer more connecting options for cities in Canada and Europe and create routing options in case of weather delays over DFW”

American Airlines enplanement figures for November 2020 showed an increase of 34.2 percent over November of 2019.

Speaking to the Rio Grande Guardian, Esterly said: “We are extremely pleased with what we have achieved at VIA over the last few years. We are also very excited about what we have planned for the near future.”

Esterly pointed out VIA is an airport with no debt. 

“Just like the citizens of the Rio Grande Valley, we have to live within our means. Instead of taking on debt you make sure that you the assets that you have in good standing. You continually upgrade those. It is kind of having an older car. You make sure you do all the maintenance along the way so you do not have a crisis where your facilities are in such bad shape.”

Esterly said VIA prides itself on not taking tax dollars from the City of Harlingen.

“We are not subsidized by the City of Harlingen. We operate as a separate, independent enterprise fund for business. We have to produce a profit and plough it back into the airport. It is not something we are getting rich off of. We operate conservatory and in a fiscally responsible way.”

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