The Daily Courier Logo
Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
11:31 AM Wed, Sept. 19th

Airport project won't have easy take-off

Anyone who has cruised a mall knows that a lot of things look good until it comes time to reach for the wallet.

That seems to be where the Prescott City Council is in looking at a consultant's recommendations for a new terminal at Ernest A. Love Field.

The current terminal went up in 1948, and still uses the original baggage claim area. This week, consultant Edward Just unveiled plans for a new terminal.

Just laid out plans for a new terminal that would comprise anywhere from 17,000 square feet to 21,000 square feet, depending on how elaborate the city wants to get. Clearly even the minimum would be a vast improvement over the current 4,300-square-foot terminal.

No one can argue the need for a new terminal, but then one gets to the question of price, which Just estimated at $5 million to $9 million.

The other question harkens back to the film "Field of Dreams." If the city builds the new airport, will users come?

Currently only one airline serves the area, and it does so under a federal subsidy plan. Passenger volume has dropped from 13,500 passengers in 1993 to 6,500 in 2000. Passenger volume is unlikely to increase under current conditions, especially given the state of the existing terminal.

But even if the city builds a new terminal, will airlines be encouraged enough about prospects for profit to boost service and end or reduce its subsidy arrangement?

City manager Larry Asaro has offered to plug the lower-cost version of the Just proposal into the city's five-year capital improvement plan for the council to study at a future workshop session.

It looks like a problem for the long haul.