The Grand Junction Regional Airport “is always seeking to cultivate and grow relationships with airlines,” its executive director, Angela Padalecki, says.

That includes exploring opportunities for bringing new airlines to town, or for airlines with local service to add routes and flights.

It also can involve the airport providing incentives for airlines to provide new services — just so long as the airport makes the same incentives available to other airlines. And in the meantime, a relatively new outside entity known as the Grand Junction Regional Air Service Alliance can work independently to also offer inducements to airlines to get them to broaden what air travel is available locally.

As it happened, both the airport and the alliance provided incentives that were involved in Avelo Airlines choosing to fly to Grand Junction.

The new airline earlier this month announced it will offer four flights a week between Grand Junction and Hollywood Burbank Airport in California. Padalecki said that Avelo qualified for, and agreed to accept, an incentive the airport offered to waive airport rates, fees and charges for its first year in operation. It also was eligible to receive $25,000 for marketing, but declined that.

This week Frontier Airlines announced it will be flying three days a week between Grand Junction and Denver. Padalecki said Frontier also qualifies for incentives the airport offers, and she anticipates it will participate in the incentive program.

Meanwhile, Avelo also is benefiting from assistance from the Grand Junction Regional Air Service Alliance. The alliance was created and funded after voters in 2018 approved a lodging tax increase. It can do things such as provide minimum revenue guarantees to reduce risk for airlines starting a new flight.

“The alliance was involved in luring Avelo to the community,” said Diane Schwenke, who is co-executive director of the alliance and president and CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

She said she can’t discuss the details of the alliance’s involvement, which is fairly typical when it comes to airline incentive negotiations. She also said the alliance didn’t play a role in Frontier offering its new Grand Junction service.

Last year the alliance was involved in the airport getting a $950,000 grant aimed at helping get a daily nonstop flight between Grand Junction and the San Francisco area. The alliance agreed to provide $475,000 in matching funds.

United Airlines provided a letter of support for that grant. Padalecki said the airport is hoping the service will be started up in the spring of next year. She said while United appears to be the most likely partner to provide the flight, it could be provided by another airline under the grant, and the airport continues to talk to United and other airlines about the flight.

When it comes to offering incentives to airlines, Padalecki said the airport can’t discriminate against or favor specific airlines. Whatever incentives it offers must be available to all airlines that qualify based on the incentives’ terms.

The airport’s board in December approved an air service incentive program available to all airlines. Padalecki said the Federal Aviation Administration limits the incentives airports can offer to in-kind contributions and marketing incentives. It can’t offer minimum revenue guarantees the way outside airport alliances can.

Padalecki said the airport maintains a deliberate separation between itself and the alliance when it comes to their relationships with airlines to ensure nothing the airport does can be viewed as trying to direct the alliance’s funds. The airport tries to keep the alliance informed about what is happening at the facility and the discussions it is having with airlines so the alliance can pursue opportunities as it sees fit, she said.

The incentive program the airport board approved identifies target markets and destinations for new service, and spells out the various levels of incentives for providing new service to target and nontarget destinations, or expanding or restoring service to existing destinations. What incentives are offered is based on factors such as whether the carrier is new to Grand Junction and whether the services offered are year-round or seasonal, and daily or less frequent.