A possible addition to the St. Cloud airport could have benefits for area resorts.
The St. Cloud Regional Airport is trying to bring in United Airlines, and area resort representatives are excited because they hope having a major airline close by will draw more conferences and conventions to the area.
"If we can get them to St. Cloud, that hour and a half saved is a big advantage to us," said Robert Mason, director of sales at Madden's on Gull Lake. Flights normally go through the Minneapolis airport.
Representatives from the St. Cloud Regional Airport and Brainerd area resorts met with the Brainerd-Crow Wing County Regional Airport Commission on Wednesday to show commissioners the presentation the St. Cloud airport gave to United Airlines in hopes of luring the airline to St. Cloud.
St. Cloud is one of three second-tier airports in the state -- Duluth and Rochester are the others -- but is home to just one major carrier, Northwest Airlines.
Also, from St. Cloud, Northwest Airlines flies only to and from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. If United Airlines began operating in St. Cloud, there would be three flights to and from Chicago and two to and from Denver daily.
The Brainerd lakes area already hosts many conventioneers, but area resort representatives hope the 100-plus additional seats United Airlines could bring to St. Cloud would entice more businesses and organizations to also visit Brainerd.
"From what others have said Minneapolis to Brainerd, at three and a half hours, is a hard sell (to conventioneers)," said Brian Ryks, St. Cloud Regional Airport director. "One of the things airlines mention is that communities need to partner a little bit. If service improves in St. Cloud, it will help Brainerd."
If United Airlines were to begin flights to and from St. Cloud, the airport there would have to undergo an expansion in its runways and other facilities to accommodate United Airlines regional jets.
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