The Prescott area is rich in history, including the evolution of Prescott Regional Airport (PRC). As we anticipate the upcoming groundbreaking for the airport’s new terminal on Oct. 4, we also take time to reflect on our storied past. Much has changed in our ever-growing community over the years, and PRC is integral to that change.
The airport dates back to the late 1920s. In July 1926, construction of the airstrip got underway, and in 1928, there was expansion when Dan Fain dedicated a one-square-mile piece of leased land to the town of Prescott for the airport.
In August 1928, the airport was dedicated as Ernest A. Love Airport and in the 90 years since that dedication, PRC has continued to grow, right along with our beautiful community. Before the Ernest A. Love Memorial Terminal was completed in 1948, a few hangars and a converted train boxcar served as a functional airport. My, how times have changed!
With the completion of the terminal space, the airport became a Flight Service Station – dedicated as such in 1969 – making it a key component of the National Air System and providing a waypoint for pilots flying east to west. In fact, in 1973 the Prescott Air Flight Service Station had the second-highest number of radio contacts with aircraft of any station in the United States.
As aeronautics evolved and flight became more popular, Congress realized the importance of ensuring that small airports retain a link to the National Air Transportation System. With that in mind, they added Section 419 to the Federal Aviation Act establishing the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program. EAS keeps qualified, small communities served by certified air carriers and maintains a minimal level of scheduled air service.
Through the years, PRC has been host to a number of small subsidiary airlines that bid for service under the EAS. In July 2018, SkyWest Airlines was awarded the EAS Contract for the airport, and in August of the same year, United Express, operated by SkyWest Airlines, began service out of PRC. As we celebrate one year of service with United Express, the airport has serviced over 50,000 total passengers and, as of May 2019, had already exceeded 10,000 enplanements (boardings), ensuring that we will retain Non-Hub Primary Commercial Status. Currently, daily round-trip service is offered to Denver and Los Angeles, and additional services will be available for the holiday season during the months of November and December. Thanks to the region’s extraordinary response, most flights have been able to accomplish more than 90% load factors.
Through hard work and dedication, PRC has seen many anniversaries and this year, as we break ground on what promises to be a beautiful new 18,000-square-foot terminal, the future looks even brighter for the airport and the region. In addition to the new terminal, which is anticipated to be completed in the fall of 2020, PRC will also be conducting runway lengthening and expansion to assist with aircraft performance.
As a dedicated regional partner, the airport continues to play a vital role in development and opportunities in our area and we can all look forward to what the future holds. QCBN
By Greg Mengarelli
For more information on the groundbreaking or United Express Flights at PRC, please visit prcairport.com/.
Greg L. Mengarelli is the mayor of the City of Prescott.