Las Cruces airport plans commercial service to ABQ

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LAS CRUCES – Fancy a flight to Duke City? Las Crucens could get lucky later this year.

At its December 20 meeting, Las Cruces City Council authorized the city to seek state funding to establish an intra-state commercial passenger service from Las Cruces International Airport.

According to the city’s airport administrator Andy Hume, the current airport facilities are pretty much ready to support flights within the state. Improvements that could happen before that would be the addition of televisions, phone charging sockets and additional seats in the terminal, he said.

“We would like to add additional equipment,” Hume said. “But basically we’re good to go.”

Hume said the city was “aggressively” pursuing actions that would allow interstate travel to begin soon after.

Approval of the resolution authorizing the request for $ 3.5 million under the New Mexico Rural Air Service Improvement Grant program also authorized the city to provide 10% of matching funds to administer the commercial department, bringing the total grant request to $ 3.85 million for a two-year period.

The city has already launched a competitive bidding process to select a flight provider. A request for proposal process accepted offers until Dec. 28, and Hume said several vendors have expressed interest in potentially submitting proposals. The number of bidders was not immediately available.

If the New Mexico Department of Transportation-Division of Aviation approves the city’s grant application, flights to and from Las Cruces and Albuquerque – approximately 225 miles apart by the highway – would be the first established. Hume said the plane ride would take less than an hour.

Hume considers this an “easy win” as he said there is a plethora of Albuquerque-based companies doing business in Las Cruces.

“That alone creates significant demand,” Hume said. “Just the business part of it.”

Hume said about 18,000 trips per year already occur between the two cities by any mode of transport. With intra-state air service, he said the airport expects to recoup some of that existing demand.

Based on the request, the city said flights between Las Cruces and Santa Fe and other cities in New Mexico could be established in the future.

If all goes as planned, intra-state flights could begin as early as mid-2022.

But Hume is looking beyond the interior of the state. He hopes to travel interstate from Las Cruces International Airport by the end of 2022 or early 2023.

It is an ambitious goal. Hume himself said there are many things that need to come together over the next 12 months for this to happen, such as building “dozens” of hangars, adding counters, car rental services and more. Transportation Security Administration infrastructure, which would include the creation of a sterile zone beyond security checkpoints.

The airport’s response to firefighting must also be improved and an airline must be selected to provide interstate service, Hume added.

“Interstate is going to require significant investment,” Hume said.

But Hume is confident, saying Sun-News companies are “lining up to build” these hangars. The city is also expected to ask the state to allocate $ 37.5 million in funds for airport upgrades during the next legislative session.

Las Cruces Airport has not had commercial passenger service since 2005. Between the late 1940s and 2005, 11 airlines provided commercial passenger service there.

The airport is currently used for general and corporate aviation and by the US military, private charters, the local civilian air patrol squadron, and New Mexico State University for flight testing. of unmanned aircraft systems.


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