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8:21 PM Mon, Nov. 12th

Main runway repair to get underway next week at airport

Commercial air travel to commence Aug. 29

The Prescott Municipal Airport terminal will, once again, be active with commercial passenger traffic starting Aug. 29, 2018. (Cindy Barks/Courier, file)

The Prescott Municipal Airport terminal will, once again, be active with commercial passenger traffic starting Aug. 29, 2018. (Cindy Barks/Courier, file)

A $6 million repair on Prescott Municipal Airport’s main runway will get underway next week — closing it down for all daytime traffic until Aug. 22.

The scheduled repairs are expected to be completed one week before the arrival of the city’s new commercial jetliner service, SkyWest Airlines operating as United Express. The first flight from Denver is slated to land on that air strip at 1:15 p.m. on Aug. 29, said Airport Director Robin Sobotta.

Night construction on the runway will begin on Aug. 23 and last through the end of September. Again, though, construction is scheduled from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. with the closures timed so as not to conflict with United Express’ evening and morning flights, Sobotta said.

The airport’s non-commercial aviators will be able to use a smaller, parallel runway during the construction period, other than for three days when the airport is asking for only non-essential service, Sobotta said. Those days an alternative runway used to divert traffic based on weather will also be closed, with pilots given plenty of advance notice so as to prepare for any scheduling changes, she said.

As is planned now, United Express will be offering area travelers nonstop flights on a 50-seat jetliner to Denver and Los Angeles destinations; multiple daily flights to Denver and flights to L.A. everyday but Saturday when the route will go to Denver with a connection to Los Angeles. From those destinations, the airlines will be arranging for connecting flight packages to at least another 100 places around the globe.

All the destinations, and subsequent fares, are not all yet listed on the airline booking site. Sobotta advises potential customers to exercise some “patience, and then try back.”

“We are seeing some amazing destinations on fares. We’re very pleased,” Sobotta said, noting all of these flights are designed for comfort with flight attendants and bathrooms.

The runway construction — the winning bidder was Fann Contracting in Prescott — is a major coup for the airport’s efforts to upgrade so it can provide topnotch service to the regional community, Sobotta said.

With the selection of United Express to offer the largest commercial jetliners in the airport’s history, Sobotta said the timetable on the overhaul was advanced to avoid interference with bringing a commercial airline to the region. All involved want the carrier to begin offering flights with as little delay as possible, she said.

Even with the night construction, Sobotta said Fann contractors expect they may complete their work prior to the end of a projected 106-day contract period, with weather the sole intangible.

“And the carrier knows we have to make those time frames. They are well aware of the construction,” Sobotta assured.

On July 16, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the selection of SkyWest Airlines, operating as United Express, to provide commercial air travel to Prescott under its Essential Air Service Subsidy program. City officials endorsed the selection to replace the former Great Lakes Airlines.

All in all, Sobotta said she is delighted with progress on the much-needed renovations at the airfield and the arrival of the new airlines that will offer unprecedented travel service to area residents.

“It’s about darn time,” Sobotta declared. “The community, and leadership in the community, are ready for this. Getting United Express is a delight. It’s going to be extraordinary service for the first time in the history of our community.”