Thousands of stateline travelers, the Greater Rockford Airport and new airlines could soon be ready for takeoff.
"They ripen just like fruit on a tree; they don't all ripen on Tuesday. Northwest is ripe and ready to go right now, next 10 days," airport director Bob O'Brien said.
Leaders say proposals with Northwest service to Detroit, along with Frontier Airline's service to Denver are in the forefront. With the airport's convenience and available runways, leaders say reasonable fares would be the norm.
"Our goal and objective in the negotiating process is to see to it that the fares in Rockford to Detroit, Rockford to LaGuardia would be comparable to Chicago to Detroit," airport authority Mike Dunn said, but for new airlines to arrive, the city and the airport must have $2 million in place for each airline in a deposit should a lack of passengers not bring in a profit.
“If we do our job right this will not cost us $2 million, $3 million, $4 million. However, we have to do the responsible thing, so if we fail we have that money aside just in case," O'Brien said.
And while the city and airport work to line up the deposits, leaders are hopeful that with one or two airlines arriving, the Greater Rockford Airport could soon become one of the Midwest's busiest.
“TMA made the first move. Now, they're sitting there waiting to see a major carrier. Frontier is a major carrier. Northwest is a major carrier. I think when other airlines see those carriers make that move you are going to see other airlines coming in. I think the future is unlimited here," Dunn said.
Should either Northwest or Frontier Airlines finalize an agreement with the Greater Rockford Airport at next Thursday's board meeting.
The airlines could be flying into Rockford as soon as December.