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BOISE -- It's travel season and if you have tried to book a flight from Boise to Atlanta or Orlando lately you know there is no such thing as a direct flight to the Southern United States.

The Boise Airport recognizes it needs more direct service in-state and out. That is why it applied for a million dollar federal grant through the Department of Transportation.

The grant is through the Small Community Air Service Development Program, a program designed to help towns who want to grow their airports.

The airport won't know if they win the grant for another three to six months, however, it already has big plans if it wins.

The first phase is to connect Sun Valley and Boise via commuter service, said Rebecca Hupp, Director of the Boise Airport. The next phase is to provide additional connecting hub capabilities to Boise, the Southeast or Southern United States. The rest of the money would be used to promote the new routes.

The business community wants more flights in and out of Idaho just as much as the airport. So recently, the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce voted to chip in funds if the airport wins the million dollar federal grant.

A city needs to have good air service and the business community needs to step up and let that be known, said Bill Connors, President and CEO of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber will donate $10,000 cash and another $10,000 of in-kind donations if the airport wins the grant.

You go to a hub airport, you open up connections to all over the world, said Connors.

The Boise Airport has its eye on Dallas or Atlanta for possible new routes.

Someplace like that that provides good access to the South and Southeastern United States and lots of connecting options, said Hupp.

The Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce says it is easier to attract and grow business in the Treasure Valley with more flights in and out of the airport.

Connors says businesses who are thinking about relocating often ask, Can we get to our customers? Can our customers get to us? Connors believes lots of flight options are an important part of economic development.

But even if the Boise Airport wins the grant that does not guarantee airlines will fly the routes that the airport desires.

Ultimately, the airlines make the choices about where they fly airplanes, their destinations, frequency, pricing, said Hupp. The only thing we can do is provide an environment that allows an airline to provide service.

Hupp says some of the grant money could be used to help airlines with costs associated with starting a new route, giving airlines extra incentive to come to Boise.

But Connors says getting new routes is only part of the challenge.

You have to look at an airline as a business and they are not going to come to a city, any city, unless they think it is going to be profitable, said Connors.

The Boise Airport used to have direct flights to cities in the South, like Atlanta and Houston. For different reasons, airlines left the airport or eliminated those routes over the past few years.

However, the Boise Airport believes that a direct flight to the southern or southeastern part of the U.S. would be a profitable route, because right now to get to that part of the country travelers have to make at least one stop, if not more.

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