With incentive money in hand, Lincoln Airport could soon land new airline partner | Local Business News

Local airport officials hope travelers will soon be packing their bags for leisure destinations flying out of Lincoln.

The Lincoln Airport Authority on Wednesday formally ratified an interlocal agreement that gives it $ 3 million in federal stimulus funds to use as an incentive to recruit new air service, and it’s looking like the funds could be put to use sooner rather than later.

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Airport Executive Director David Haring said he’s in negotiations with at least one airline and is “optimistic” an agreement could be signed as early as next month.

Haring declined to provide any details, such as the name of the airline, the potential new routes or how much incentive money would be pledged.

He told the Journal Star earlier this year that the airport would likely focus its efforts on landing a leisure carrier to provide service aimed at vacation travelers.

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The airport previously had leisure service from Allegiant Airlines from 2006-2008. It also reportedly had interest in 2019 from Sun Country Airlines, a Minneapolis-based leisure carrier, but couldn’t come to a deal because it had no incentive money to offer.

Under the terms of the interlocal agreement, which has already been approved by both the City Council and Lancaster County Board, the airport will have the discretion to negotiate use of the money, but it will have to be approved by the County Board with input from the city.

The money is intended to be used as a revenue guarantee to help offset startup costs and potential early losses for airlines offering new service.

As part of the agreement, the airport has to commit the funds, which come from American Rescue Plan Act money given to the city and county during the coronavirus pandemic, no later than Sept. 30, 2024, and must expend it no later than Sept. 30, 2026.

Haring said that a clause ensures the money can be repurposed if the airport doesn’t use all of it for incentives to lure a new carrier.

The airport currently has daily service to Chicago and Denver on United Airlines, which will be adding a daily flight to Houston in September.

The airport is using a $ 750,000 federal grant to provide incentive money to United for the Houston flight, but the airline will not be receiving any of the $ 3 million in ARPA funds.

Delta, which at one point offered service to Minneapolis and Atlanta, pulled out of the Lincoln market in January.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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