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Allegiant eyes Bemidji as potential air hub; could lead to direct flight to Las Vegas

Allegiant Airlines and the Bemidji Regional Airport are in "very preliminary discussions" with one another about whether non-stop service between Bemidji and Las Vegas is possible.

Harold Van Leeuwen Jr., the airport manager, said in an email that he expects to know more by the end of April.

Allegiant, an all-jet service air travel provider, travels from regional cities such as Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D., and Duluth, Minn., to destinations like Las Vegas, Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz., Orlando, Fla., and Los Angeles.

Previous contacts between Bemidji and Allegiant have not been successful, but Van Leeuwen said current prospects may be more fruitful since Allegiant, this time, contacted the city.

If Allegiant does expand to Bemidji, it would not affect the services to be provided soon by SkyWest. SkyWest, flying under the Delta Connect flag, will begin providing Bemidji's commercial air service in March.

If Allegiant decides to move into Bemidji, that service would be separate of SkyWest's service, according to members of the Bemidji Regional Airport Authority, who met Wednesday evening.

The recent renovations at the Bemidji Regional Airport and its terminal now provide a jet bridge, which would be a priority in wooing Allegiant, according to past reports.

Ron Johnson, an Airport Authority member, said if Allegiant did come to Bemidji, it would be a great benefit to the community.

"It's just one of those things that is going to make Bemidji a more attractive place" in recruiting business professions to the area, he said.

Already, Johnson added, the airport has made drastic, impressive improvements to its terminal and grounds.

"Our airport is really our first impression to probably a lot of important people," he said. "Bemidji is well positioned now."