MRY

A group of agencies and businesses called Fly Team Monterey are pursuing a $500,000 grant to start a new American Airlines daily nonstop route to the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport.

Monterey Regional Airport is reaching deep into the heart of Texas to bring more visitors to the Monterey Peninsula, backed by the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau, surrounding cities and businesses.

A community group of agencies and businesses dubbed Team Fly Monterey has been working for about a year to identify new daily nonstop routes to desirable markets. It chose Dallas—via American Airlines—as its first target, says Mike La Pier, the airport’s executive director.

The Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport is ideal for a couple of reasons, La Pier says. First, there’s already a presence of people from Dallas who visit the Peninsula. And second, it’s a major hub for American Airlines flights to other parts of the country and the world.

American Airlines—which currently flies nonstop to another hub, Phoenix, from Monterey—is very interested in pursuing the new route, La Pier says.

Adding a route is not a straightforward matter, however. The regional airport must pursue a $500,000 federal grant for monies to cover the cost of launching the route, competing against other airports around the country.

In addition, Team Fly Monterey has to show there’s community support behind the route in the form of a promise to put up cash—usually 20 percent of the grant amount, which in Monterey’s case is $100,000—should the route falter in some way over a period of three years.

On Wednesday night, the MCCVB board of directors voted in favor of contributing a Texas-sized amount of $100,000 to support the grant.

Visit Carmel, a private, nonprofit organization that oversees marketing for the city, was the first local organization to pledge money toward the grant, La Pier says. Its leaders promised $10,000.

Folktale Winery in Carmel Valley pledged another $20,000. The Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Cannery Row Company each pledged $5,000, La Pier says, for a grand total of $140,000. Other cities and agencies may contribute, as well.

The grant will be submitted in September, and if successful, the route could launch as early as spring 2018.

La Pier is optimistic for the grant request's chances, based on community support and American Airlines' interest.

“We’ve positioned ourselves extremely well,” he says.

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