The Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport is pursuing a grant that will help attract another airline to provide flights to a new travel hub, possibly Denver.

The four-year $750,000-$1 million Small Community Air Service Development grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will help the airport secure a new carrier and flights to another airport.

The airport offers Alaska Airlines flights to Seattle.

The grant is funded by overflight fees that are paid when an international flight passes through the U.S.

Airport Executive Director Tony Bean said the most likely hub is Denver International Airport, which would give flyers an additional 39 one-stop connections.

Denver International is the largest airport in the U.S. and the fifth busiest, according to the Airports Council International’s 2017 figures.

Bean said Wednesday during a Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport Board meeting that SkyWest and United are the most likely options to offer flights to Denver.

He said the carriers would be able to provide additive services to the airport that would not compete with Alaska.

Bean said there is no guarantee the airport will be awarded the competitive grant, but he likes its chances because of the area’s growth and the work being done to realign the runway to meet Federal Aviation Administration standards.

“I think we’re in a very, very good situation because the market is here, it does exist, the growth has shown significant,” he said.

Bean also said the community’s investment in the airport shows airlines that it is serious about air service.

The airport will try to raise $300,000-$350,000 to advertise the new airline’s services after it begins operations in Pullman.

It will ask for pledges and letters of support from the community, including the universities, businesses and private citizens.

Bean said USDOT will look more favorably on the airport if a large number of partners send letters of support explaining why Denver flights will be beneficial to them.

Bean said the letters will need to be sent when the grant details and rules are finalized this year, though he does not yet know when that will be.

Jenny Ford, Moscow Chamber of Commerce director, joined Bean on a conference where they met with representatives from various airlines. She said SkyWest and United were familiar with the improvements being made to the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.

“So I view that as an extreme positive,” she said.

Bean said the new runway’s instrument approach landing system to improve visibility for pilots will also be an important feature in attracting a new airline.

Paving of the new runway began this week.

A crew from Poe Asphalt placed asphalt on the runway Wednesday, which is set to be 9 inches thick when it’s finished.

The new runway is scheduled to be open Oct. 10.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to akuipers@dnews.com.

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