It's been talked about for months, even years; bringing passenger air service to Rockford. Now it's up to area residents to help get passenger planes off the ground in the Forest City.
The airport needs to raise $250,000 to make this happen, and officials are looking for donations from the community.
If local residents and business owners can help raise the money, non-stop jet service could be up and running from Rockford to Las Vegas four times a week by this fall with plans to expand to other destinations including Orlando, airport officials says it's a challenge but more importantly an opportunity.
An airline carrier has issued a challenge to the Rock River Valley: raise $250,000 and they'll bring passenger service back to Rockford.
"What they want to see is whether or not Rockford and the region around Rockford truly wants local hometown service," says Bob O’Brien, Rockford airport authority.
An unnamed carrier is making the offer for non-stop, jet service to Las Vegas starting this fall. O'Brien says rates will competitive with midway and O'Hare and the airport has already raised more than $20,000.
"What we bring to you today is a great offer and a great opportunity and a small challenge," says O’Brien.
While it seems like a strange proposition, Rockford's mayor says the offer will give the community a strong tie with the airport and a sense of pride when passenger service takes off in Rockford.
"We need to embrace it and actually fly it. And if that happens then i think what's going to occur as a result of that is you're going to see a lot more activity here. This is a first step and it's a great step,” says Mayor Scott.
Airport Authority Director, Bob O'Brien, says he cannot disclose the name of the carrier making the offer because of the competitive nature of the airline industry and airline's plans for expansion. If you'd like to show your support for “bringing passenger service to the greater Rockford Airport,” you can send a check to:
60 Airport Drive
Rockford, IL 61109
Payable to: GRAA, Air Service Marketing Fund
The airport has until June 15 to raise the money.