Aug 15, 2012 at 8:22 am
ST. CLOUD, MN (KNSI) - After months of talks, we could be getting close as St. Cloud is in final negotiations, zeroing in on restoring commercial air service to the city.
Final talks are going on now that would bring an airline in to provide twice daily flights between St. Cloud and Chicago's O'Hare Airport, meanwhile, discussions with a second carrier could bring an unexpected bonus, service to Phoenix three times a week.
Al Kremers is leading the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation's effort to get an airline back to the airport and he told the Star Tribune that he's "very optimistic" that an announcement will be made this year.
Kremers' sentiments are very close to those of Mayor Dave Kleis who also cautioned that the deal is by no means done.
"We're hopeful, but we haven't signed any contracts with anyone yet," Kleis said. "We're constantly discussing with a couple of airlines, but until we actually sign a contract there is no air service guarantee."
St. Cloud has nearly $6 million in pledges from local businesses and other groups, committing to fly a St. Cloud to Chicago flight. There are also nearly $1 million in federal grants and other money available to absorb any potential losses for a new air partner.
The city spoke with a number of potential suitors through the process, but a handful of front-runners have emerged.
"We've been looking and working with SkyWest, we've been working with Allegiant, we've been working with United," Kleis said. "Those are the airlines that would have an interest in flying from St. Cloud to Chicago or flying St. Cloud to potentially Arizona."
Kleis has been hopeful through this whole process that a signed deal could be finalized this year and he's sticking by that hope. If all goes well, passenger flights could be moving in and out of the St. Cloud Regional Airport by early 2013.