ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Flyers will be able to head to the home of country music direct from Rockford very soon.

Allegiant Airlines announced it’s adding a direct flight to Nashville from Rockford. The announcement comes as part of Allegiants 22-city expansion at airports around the country.

Mike Dunn, executive director of Chicago Rockford International Airport says a new route has been in the works for a long time.

“We’ve been working with the Allegiant for several years now to add a new destination. Nashville was at the top of our list. And so we’re obviously very pleased,” said Dunn.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic and a subsequent pilot shortage, expansion talks proved to difficult to move forward with. However, Dunn believes the new Nashville flight is a sign of progress.

“So we were kind of in a holding pattern waiting for something,” Dunn said. “And the news came last night late that Rockford was going to be awarded a new destination, which in our world is a very big deal.”

“What we’ve been able to prove to Allegiant is that this airport is able to draw from the Chicago suburbs, southern Wisconsin, Madison, Janesville area, down into in eastern Iowa, into this airport,” Dunn added.

Local travelers say they are excited about the new destination option.

“I think that would really be awesome. Nashville is an amazing city to visit,” said Dorothy Gullickson. “There’s tons of stuff to do. Great ideas, great music.”

Dunn says he’s confident the flight will bring in more clientele.

“Based on the research that Allegiant has done and our own research here, a very popular destination. And frankly, the only other than Chicago O’Hare and Midway will be the only airport servicing Nashville from this area.”