Air travelers in eastern counties trying to reach the Windy City have a new choice for nonstop flights.
American Eagle, the regional sister of American Airlines, has started two daily flights between Wilmington International Airport and Chicago O'Hare.
The airline expects to draw business and leisure travelers, and the new service could create some competition for Raleigh-Durham International Airport among passengers in Eastern counties.
"There is plenty of demand in the Research Triangle region and eastern North Carolina to support additional service to Chicago," said RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin.
Gov. Bev Perdue hailed the addition as a plus for the Wilmington region. Economic boosters use airlines' nonstop destinations as a tool when recruiting new business.
"Direct access to the American Airlines international network opens the door for economic development of all kinds," Perdue said in a prepared statement.
To promote the new flights, American Eagle is offering AAdvantage customers double miles for travel between Wilmington and Chicago through Sept. 30.