ST. CLOUD - It was back on a warm summer day in August that Allegiant Airlines announced plans to offer regular flights between St. Cloud and Mesa, Arizona.  This Saturday at 5:05 p.m. that first plane full of central Minnesotans will take off to the warm destination.

St. Cloud Regional Airport Director Bill Towle says, in the four months since the announcement was made, Allegiant officials tell him ticket sales have been strong.

The flight between the two cities takes just over two hours. Right now, ticket prices over the next three months range from $75 to $300 one way.  Allegiant is planning on offering two flights a week.  They'll be flying jets that have a capacity of 166 seats.

Towle says Allegiant workers have been busy working at the airport for the past month.  He says they'll have office space at the airport.

Towle says one Allegiant employee will be full-time, the eleven or so others will be part-time workers who will only be at the airport when flights are schedule to take-off or land.

Towle says the airport has installed a Sign Information Display System, which will list flight information.  He says they'll be able to swap out the airlines if-and-when they get other airlines to commit to the St. Cloud Regional Airport.

Allegiant also offers complete vacation packages in the Mesa area, including hotels and entertainment options.

The TSA is back:
Towle says, prior to the flight, federal TSA agents have to be brought back to the airport.

Towle says the TSA agents will only be at the airport when Allegiant has flights scheduled.

Towle says the airport, and other local officials, are continuing to work on securing another airline.  Their hope is to offer direct flights to and from Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

The St. Cloud Regional Airport has been without regular air service for three years.

We also requested to talk with officials from Allegiant Airlines, but we have not heard back from them.