Flagstaff Airport had 72,679 passengers choose to fly out of our airport in 2017, which resulted in a 9 percent increase over the prior year. That is the largest group ever to board a plane from the Flagstaff airport and resulted in saving our patrons time. We all have a choice to fly or drive two-and-a-half hours to Phoenix in traffic, pay $9 to $25 per day to park, stand in long lines to check bags and end with a long screening line. But instead, many of you parked easily, experienced a short commute from home, checked your bags in minutes and went through a shortened screening for your flight. Thank you for listening to our request to ALWAYS FLY FLAGSTAFF FIRST and saving yourself time!
Because of this, American Airlines has recognized the potential of our small market and has added more routes this coming summer. Non-stop service to Los Angeles begins on May 5 to be followed by non-stop service to Dallas on June 9. This is a test where American will review the flights in the fall that only fly on Saturday to see if there is enough data to support more flights to these destinations. We are positive that during our summer travel season these flights will be successful.
We continue to court other carriers and seek new services to destinations we would love to see, such as San Francisco and Denver. Studies show that both these markets would succeed in Flagstaff and help the local business and tourism economy. We need to continue to see growth with our existing flights to show other carriers that Flagstaff can support our unique market.
In the last two years, we have seen two larger jets begin daily service in Flagstaff, the CRJ-700 and CRJ-900. The first and more common is a 70-seat jet while the latter plane is a 79-seat jet, but has only been seasonal. Just a few years ago, America West and US Air were flying 38-seat aircraft. With a full flight of 38 passengers, the aircraft could board with very small lines that moved rather quickly. Though our lines pale in comparison to Phoenix or Los Angeles and we only board 70 passengers, it does increase the time it takes to properly screen those passengers and we ask that people arrive with enough time to make their flight. The airline suggests arriving two hours before departure to allow proper flight departure. The TSA also asks that you plan for getting through screening by removing all electronics, and not carry items prohibited for boarding. We encourage helping get full flights onboard by following these rules.
Thank you, Flagstaff, for choosing to fly Flagstaff! FBN
By Barney Helmick
Barney Helmick is the director of the Flagstaff Airport.