During a budget presentation to the Duluth City Council on Thursday, Tom Werner, executive director of the Duluth Airport Authority, revealed that Sun Country Charters would begin offering flights between Duluth and Nashville, Tenn., in May.

When questioned later, he offered few details but said: “We’re working hard on Nashville, and we’ll have more information on it soon.”

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The new service will provide local travelers with direct access to a new vacation destination, helping to fill the void left following Allegiant Air’s departure from the Duluth market in 2015.

But Werner also has his eye on a larger prize.

“We’re positioned very well to gain access to a new third hub, and we hope that hub will be Denver,” he told the council.

“That will have the strategic effect of lowering fares to multiple western destinations, to have a sustainable connection to a place like Denver. Again, it’s all based on competition,” he said.

At present, travelers flying out of Duluth have direct access to Minneapolis/St. Paul and Chicago, but Werner said a third western hub such as Denver would offer new opportunities. He laid out his hopes to attract new service to Denver with the help of a Small Community Air Service Development Grant.

Such a grant, designed to increase air service in underserved regional markets, also was used to help draw United to Duluth, opening service to Chicago.

Werner predicts competition for the air service dollars will be intense, but he likes Duluth’s odds largely because its track record.

“We’ve had success in utilizing grant funds of that type before, and the Chicago route is certainly a poster child for how you successfully grow organically a route from its early stages of two daily frequencies up to four seasonally and have the passenger count grow with it so the airline has confidence that it will be sustainable over the long term,” he said.