BULLHEAD CITY — For the first time, local and regional pledges to help restore scheduled air service at Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport have topped $1.1 million. Airport officials are using those pledges as a local match to help secure a federal air service grant for the Tri-state.
The final tally shows $530,000 in cash pledges, along with another $608,000 of in-kind support, from local and regional individuals, businesses, government agencies and organizations. Numerous letters of support were also included in documents submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The Mohave County Airport Authority, which operates the facility, is applying for a Small Community Air Service Development Program grant of $750,000 to be matched with the local pledges and contributions. The grant program within the USDOT is designed to help small communities address air service and airfare issues. Following extensive reviews, grants are normally announced by early fall.
“Topping $1 million is a truly remarkable feat,” said MCAA President John Hastings. “It should send a positive message to the USDOT that our Tri-state region understands the importance of restoring quality, scheduled airline service.”
A recent analysis conducted for MCAA by Sixel Consulting Group indicated that new scheduled airline service, along with the expanding charter flights for Laughlin casinos, is an economic development driver. In data provided to the city of Bullhead City, scheduled air service to a world-class hub, such as Denver, would create 14,000 new visitors annually and generate more than $17 million in local economic impact.
Hastings again emphasized that the revenue guarantee funds may never be used if the air service is successful, but having the funds and the grant make a stronger case during negotiations.
Airport Authority officials have met with or negotiated with a number of airlines in recent years. Two scenarios are current priorities: flights to and from Denver International Airport, or flights to and from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Each would provide connectivity to and from much of the country as well as much of the world. Both year-round and seasonal service has been explored. Flights would benefit both leisure and business travelers, most of whom currently use McCarran International Airport, 100 miles away in Las Vegas.
The Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport is one of the busiest non-metropolitan passenger airports serving northwestern Arizona, southern Nevada and southeastern California. Although traditional scheduled service ended 14 years ago, daily commercial service to and from more than 130 cities in the U.S. and Canada is operated by Sun Country Airlines with Boeing 737s and Republic Airways with Embraer 190s, as scheduled charter flights for the Riverside Resort and Harrah’s Laughlin.