Grand Forks Airport Closer to Landing Another Carrier, Service to Chicago or DenverGRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The Grand Forks International Airport is moving closer to securing another airline to provide added service to a major hub like Chicago or Denver.
GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The Grand Forks International Airport is moving closer to securing another airline to provide added service to a major hub like Chicago or Denver.
The Jobs Development Authority approved public funding Monday night as the final step in a federal grant that encompasses both the private and public sectors.
Late last year, the airport received a competitive grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation.
That $300,000 federal grant helps offset the initial costs an airline experiences when bringing service to a new city. The airport, airport authority and the Convention and Visitors Bureau have pitched in as well.
On Monday, the city put in another $200,000, calling it an "important economic development opportunity."
"The airport is a very big economic driver for the community and being able to get some additional service into Grand Forks helps with our connectability," GFK Executive Director Patrick Dame said.
Officials with the Grand Forks International Airport have been working for nearly three years to get an airline to provide service to another major hub airport, specifically Denver or Chicago.
"I think we're in a great place to bring in additional service to the airport. We think the community is growing. Our numbers are definitely showing that and we just want to do what we can to continue that growth," Dame said.
Boardings at the airport were up nearly 38 percent last month from April 2011 and the airport is seeing just over a 27 percent increase in boardings from this same time last year.
"We feel that we have a very legitimate case here for another carrier, so we're hoping. It's very difficult, but the public is responding and that's important for us," City Council President Hal Gershman said.
The city's contribution of $200,000 will help offset the big price tag an airline sees when bringing service to a new city.
"If they come in and they're making money and there is no loss, then we don't pay anything out. But if they do come in and they have some losses at the beginning that need to be offset by that, again it helps remove that barrier," Dame said.
The airport received a similar Small Community Air Service Development Grant in 2006. That was used to purchase some equipment and offset costs to bring Allegiant in to provide service to Las Vegas and Phoenix.
There are a number that can utilize this grant money. Frontier, United, American Airlines and Southwest would all provide service to either Denver or Chicago.
Now that the grant money has been secured, officials are working to get service in as soon as possible, as the federal dollars expire in three years.