United Airlines launch first direct non-stop flight from Edinburgh to Chicago O'Hare

“My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of people too
People who smile at you…"

Edinburgh Airport, Friday 23rd May, 2014: 9:00 – there's quite a party at the United Airlines Departure Gate as a group of VIP guests and media mingle with passengers arriving to board the inaugural flight from Edinburgh to Chicago O’Hare.

Jake Cefolia, United's Vice President Atlantic and Pacific Sales is joined by Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Scotland‟s Deputy First Minister, and Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new route.

United has operated year-round flights from Edinburgh to New York for the past fifteen years, but this is the first scheduled non-stop service to and from Chicago. This first season will operate from 23 May to October 6, 2014.

It's a lively occasion with musical entertainment from the Blues Brothers and fine hospitality - Bucks Fizz, American beef sarnies, pretzels, potato chips, coffee and cupcakes. A giant United Airline cake is decorated with bagpipes and pizza illustrating the transatlantic route.

In his introduction, Mr Cefolia described Chicago as the “most American of US cities” – architecture, Blues, Jazz and famous deep pan pizza. By all accounts it’s a cosmopolitan, cultural city - Edinburgh and Chicago are like twin cities, both rich in history, heritage and Arts Festivals – not forgetting cold winters!

I meet a young couple, Caroline and Dougie from East Linton enjoying the party atmosphere before the flight. But Chicago was not where they had planned to visit today!

Early Friday morning their flight to Heathrow was cancelled thus missing the onward connection from London to Washington. So now they're checked in for the inaugural flight to Chicago. From a disappointing start to their American holiday, it all worked out so well. They are thrilled to be experiencing this special flight.

Another traveller in the Departure lounge is Benjamin, a first year Biology student at Edinburgh University. His home town is San Francisco and he's flying back for the summer. Travelling via Chicago is a fast and convenient route, he says, which he'll take again when he returns in August to enjoy the fun of the Festival before next term.

Gordon Dewar said: " This new service will give Scottish passengers the opportunity to visit one of America's most exciting and vibrant cities. We've a phenomenal summer ahead with the Ryder Cup and our world-famous Festivals just a few months away. We're excited to share our wonderful city with our American passengers and give them the very best experience when they arrive in Edinburgh."

The launch of this new direct flight is certainly vital to entice international visitors to Scotland. “2014 is a massive year for Scotland. Huge global events including the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and Homecoming Scotland represent a great opportunity for tourism businesses.” Mike Cantlay, Visit Scotland

United will operate a Boeing 757-200 aircraft with 169 seats – 16 flat beds in United BusinessFirst and 153 in United Economy and Economy Plus. Chicago O’Hare airport is a major US hub with onward connections to more than 125 destinations across North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

The United flight 119 left on time, 10.25am, slowly taxiing out to the runway to receive a water cannon salute to inaugurate the flight from Edinburgh to Chicago.