BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Tri-Cities Airport (TRI) is working to get a new commercial air service route, and they are looking at the Windy City as a possible future destination.

The Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Hub said in a press release that they are committing $50,000 towards the airport’s application for a grant to open a new commercial air service route.

The hub said the airport is in the process of raising at least $200,000 in commitments from the community as part of a much larger package to incentivize a direct flight from Tri-Cities Airport to a new destination, which airport operators say would most likely be Chicago.

The Tri-Cities Airport told News Channel 11 that they are applying for a U.S. Department of Transportation Small Community Air Service Development Program grant, but that grant is not a guarantee of which airline would service it or whether it would be serviced at all.

“It is an airline’s decision where and when they will start a route, increase service, etc,” Kristi Haulsee, Director of Marketing & Air Service Development for TRI said. “There are a few airlines that have the potential to fly a Chicago route so it could be a new carrier to our market or it could be an existing carrier.”

TRI said airports must have a strong case for what would be a successful route for the community.

Grant applications are due in May, and the Tri-Cities Airport said they will most likely not know if they will receive a grant until sometime in the fall.

The Tri-Cities Airport already has service to larger connection hubs including Dallas, Atlanta, and Charlotte.