Flights could begin next year at San Bernardino International Airport, which occupies the former Norton Air Force Base site.
The city has spent $34 million to refurbish the runway, $38 million for a new passenger terminal and $8 million to widen roads leading to the air field, which has languished since the military base closed in 1994.
Airport officials said they are negotiating with four airlines to provide regular passenger service beginning next year, but the names of carriers weren't disclosed.
San Bernardino International Airport would provide customers in the Inland Empire communities of Riverside and San Bernardino counties with cheaper fares, less congestion and international destinations.
Many potential customers pass through San Bernardino on their way to Los Angeles Ontario International Airport.
"Why would anyone come to San Bernardino when 20 miles away
there is a world-class airport? We think it is economics. We think that economics will drive them here," airport interim director Donald Rogers said.
A busy commercial airport would be a potential boon to the area economy as highly skilled, well-paid aviation workers move into depressed San Bernardino and improve the quality of life.
"An airport would be a magnificent addition to our city, and we are on the fast track," Mayor Pat Morris said. "I fully expect to have scheduled flights here by next summer."