Securing United Airlines as a second air service provider for Flagstaff has led to unprecedented growth at our regional airport, with enplanements soaring to almost 124,000 in 2019, according to Airport Director Barney Helmick.
United’s twice daily flights to Denver were not the only expansion to commercial flight service at the airport last year. American Airlines, which provides the four flights a day to Phoenix, added twice daily flights to Dallas and instituted a seasonal once-a-week flight to Los Angeles.
Combined, these changes resulted in a 76.6% increase in enplanements in 2019, and 2020 might see even more growth: United has just announced a third daily flight to Denver starting in June.
Helmick said that the popularity of the new flights isn’t surprising. “Business markets love Dallas and Denver as destinations,” he said. “There are very few markets you can’t get to from those two stops.”
More passenger traffic has led to growth for ancillary businesses at the airport, such as the cafe and car rental facilities. Helmick noted that overall employment at the terminal has increased from 75 about a year ago to 135 now.
The airport is also looking to address one of the challenges that come with this amount of success – airport parking.
Although the airport created about 50 more “overflow” parking spots at the facility last year, they still require a larger solution, Helmick said, that would dramatically increase the current capacity of 385 spaces. Preliminary plans and engineering reports are being formulated now to add a second lot to the airport.
This capital improvement would require the airport to go from free parking to a two-tiered paid system, with the existing lot being used as short-term parking and the new lot providing long-term “economy” parking. Approval to add a lot, and the pricing structure for the parking, would be up to the Flagstaff City Council.
Until parking is resolved, Helmick urged local passengers to get a ride to the airport instead of parking there.
We congratulate the City on the regional airport’s growth and for making “Fly Flagstaff First” much easier to do with its new destinations.