After years of planning, an official groundbreaking for the $15 million passenger terminal at Prescott Regional Airport had more than 200 invited guests applauding and cheering on the afternoon of Jan. 7
Dignitaries from Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley joined state and federal officials in the ceremonial tossing of dirt to initiate the construction process.
Prescott Regional Airport Director Robin Sobotta praised the support she and the city received from Federal Aviation Administration Regional Administrator Mark McClardy and his colleagues. She also thanked Transportation Security Administration Assistant Federal Security Director Justin Bryant for the support the TSA provided during years of planning and preparation.
Stating the new terminal will make it possible to increase the number of flights to and from Prescott, she emphasized it would have a dramatic economic impact on the regional economy. Sobotta said economic studies reveal the new terminal could generate as much as $160 million annually for the local economy.
The terminal is expected to be completed and operational by spring 2021. “We’ll now have the commercial air service this region has needed for decades.”
During the period when construction is underway, flights into and out of Prescott will continue the same schedule they currently follow.
Also under consideration is extension of the main runway, which will allow planes to land and depart during the hot summer months, when air density is a critical factor.
Echoing what Sobotta said, Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli commented that he was looking forward to even more destinations being added to the schedule once the terminal and other facilities were expanded. He was emphatic about what he called the “…beneficial partnership and cooperation among the Quad Cities and the state and federal officials that made growth and expansion possible.”
The mayor pointed out that since Aug. 29, 2018, when the first 50-seat regional jet flew into Prescott from Denver, more than 73,000 passengers have flown out of Prescott.
Chino Valley Mayor Daryl Croft and Prescott Valley Mayor Kell Palguta also spoke. Both indicated that they viewed the new terminal and expanded airport facilities as another example of how the communities in the area are benefitting from cooperation, not competition.
Arizona House of Representatives member Arlando S. Teller, elected in District 7, told the crowd he was pleased to see the communities working together on a project that would benefit so many people in rural areas. Teller, a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, is a member of the legislature’s Transportation Committee.
Flights to and from Prescott are operated by SkyWest Airlines through United Express.
Construction is Now Underway
The contemporary design of the new terminal is in stark contrast to the existing building. The current terminal was built in the 1940s and has been short of the space required to handle increasing passenger traffic and security. Cramped public quarters and limited office space have long had airport officials asking for a new building. However, it wasn’t until efforts began to seek funds from state and federal sources that serious thought was given to a new structure.
Funding of the $15 million building is paid for through a $10 million FAA grant, a $1 million grant from the State of Arizona, and $4.1 million from the City of Prescott general fund. FAA official McClardy noted that during the latest national round of federal grants, 167 applications had been filed. Prescott was one of only four applicants to receive approval for funding.
Terminal construction managers from Phoenix-based Willmeng Construction are working with Prescott-based Fann Construction to complete the project. Construction will be in phases to prevent the disruption of air service as much as possible in and out of the airport.
Those interested in booking flights can visit the United website at united.com or by calling 1-800-864-8311. QCBN
By Ray Newton, QCBN