A small and relatively new commercial airline carrier announced its entry into Minnesota on Thursday, offering nonstop service connecting Rochester and two warm-weather locales.
Elite Airways will begin on July 19 operating flights between the home of the Mayo Clinic and two cities where the health care provider also has facilities: Phoenix and northeastern Florida.
“Today’s exciting announcement is good news for Mayo Clinic patients, staff and the Rochester community as a whole,” Steven McNeill, chief planning officer for Mayo Clinic and president of the Rochester Airport Company Board, said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
John Reed, the Rochester airport’s executive director, also pointed out that these destinations in Arizona and south of Jacksonville in St. Augustine also are “very important markets for business travelers in our region [and] are also attractive, nonstop leisure opportunities for our travelers.”
Elite Airways, which is headquartered in Maine and bases its operations in Orlando, does not charge passengers for their first checked bag, up to 50 pounds, and there is also no fee for changing an itinerary.
Here are the tentative flight schedules for the newly announced connections (all times local):
Sundays and Thursdays: Phoenix to Rochester, 3 p.m. departure; Rochester to Phoenix, 8:45 p.m. departure.
Mondays: St. Augustine to Rochester, 7 a.m. departure; Rochester to St. Augustine, 10 a.m. departure.
Fridays: St. Augustine to Rochester, 4 p.m. departure; Rochester to St. Augustine, 6:45 p.m. departure.
Fares will be $299 each way, the airline said.
Elite Airways President John Pearsall, whose airline began operations slightly less than four years ago and flies 50- and 70-passenger aircraft, said the new flights were set to offer “flexibility for weekend or weeklong travel.”