ST. CLOUD - The St. Cloud Regional Airport is another step closer to attracting an airline back to the airport.

Al Kremers is the Chair of the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation Air Service Initiative.  He announced today (Thursday) 160 companies have pledged over $3.3 million in travel commitments for direct flights from St. Cloud to Chicago O'Hare.

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis says this commitment from the business community is a big step in attracting an airline, because they already know they have the population numbers.

The goal is to get the number up to $5 million in travel agreements by June when local officials meet with potential airlines at a conference in Sacramento.  Airport Director Bill Towle says they met with several airlines last month, and the June conference will be mostly follow-up meetings.

Towle says other airports have attracted airlines with fewer travel commitment dollars than what's already been raised here in St. Cloud.  The number one goal is to have regular air service to and from Chicago O'Hare airport, then continue to add regular air service to other destinations in the future.

On top of the travel commitments from the business community, the airport has secured over $1 million in Federal grants and money from local governments for a potential airline to use to cover any losses during the start-up.

For more, check out this video of some highlights from today's press conference.

Businesses Commit $3.3 Million to Bait Airline to St. Cloud: Press Conference - April 12, 2012 - YouTube.