CONCORD -- To fly into or out of Concord Regional Airport, you have to own a plane or know someone who does. But that will change starting Dec. 20.
"This is a great opportunity for the city and the airport and the region," said Rick Cloutier, the airport's aviation director.
Low-cost carrier Allegiant Air plans to fly twice a week from Concord to Sanford, Fla., which is just outside Orlando.
"I suspect it won't be long before Allegiant will want to expand and offer more services," said Concord Mayor Scott Padgett.
City leaders said the expansion will benefit travelers who want cheaper fares and fewer headaches.
"It gives a low-cost alternative to going with many of the legacy carriers," Cloutier said.
But the flights will also bring visitors to the region, people who can spend money in Cabarrus County.
"That's one of the big things travelers look for is value,” said John Mills, an executive with the local Convention and Visitors Bureau. “How can they make their experience more memorable with the budgets they're trying to manage nowadays."
Business leaders are excited to use these routes, and hopefully future ones, to attract companies to the area.
"Frankly we've got now a new arrow in our quiver when we're talking about why someone should consider this county, this city and really this region," said Carroll Gray, interim president of the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Earlier this year, the airport nearly lost its control tower staff because of federal budget cuts. The funding for its current controllers will run out at the end of September. Padgett hopes commercial service will keep the money flowing.
"It will add credibility to our case that this FAA tower is very important for the safety of our passengers," Padgett said.