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5:13 PM Mon, Nov. 12th

Haupt Jr.: New commercial passenger service a big deal

A United Express/SkyWest Bombardier CRJ 200 jet carries 50 passengers. (SkyWest Airlines/Courtesy)

A United Express/SkyWest Bombardier CRJ 200 jet carries 50 passengers. (SkyWest Airlines/Courtesy)

When the U.S. Department of Transportation announced July 17, 2018, it had chosen SkyWest Airlines to provide commercial passenger service at Prescott Municipal Airport, I nodded in agreement because travel from and to Prescott was about to get a whole lot easier for me and other folks.

The idea of being able to make the short drive to the airport, and then hop a flight to my hometown of Los Angeles appeals to me for several reasons, including: The L.A. Dodgers are likely to make the playoffs this season, so maybe I’ll get to catch a playoff game at home; and, my family lives in the Southern California region, so the short hop to L.A. beats the heck out of a more than six-hour drive.

Throw in the fact that SkyWest, operating as United Express starting Aug. 29 in Prescott, will also service the Denver market and it’s a win-win. Having spent a number of years living and working in Colorado, I am fond of the Centennial State and all it has to offer.

But, as detailed in a front page story Monday, Aug. 13, penned by Daily Courier staff writer Cindy Barks, there are a whole bunch of other reasons for folks to be excited by the addition of the airlines. Los Angeles flights will depart six days a week, Sunday through Friday, at a cost of about $100 round-trip, at 1:50 p.m. Daily Denver flights will depart, at a cost of about $160, at 9:03 a.m.

Those are pretty appealing price points and departure times, given folks won’t to have to make the roughly 90-minute drive to Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix to catch similar flights. Another bonus, and it’s a big one for me, is that parking is going to be free at Prescott Municipal Airport. I left my Jeep at Sky Harbor for a few days earlier this year, and it cost me nearly $60. Money I surely could have spent on something else.

However, the biggest winner in the pending arrival of United Express would seem to be the Quad Cities, which relies heavily on tourism. Sure, a lot of folks drive up from the Valley to escape the heat or check out an event in the region. But now folks coming from across the globe won’t have to make the same drive, if they so choose, because they can use United’s ticketing system to land in Prescott.

The addition of commercial passenger service to the region, which was once served by Great Lakes Airlines until the carrier vacated the market in March 2018, is a big deal. And local business groups and politicians were rightfully excited when the Department of Transportation’s decision was announced.

“For years we have all operated under the mind set of going to Phoenix for air travel,” said Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli in a story penned by Cindy Barks that first appeared on dCourier.com on July 17, 2018. “Travelers can now fly anywhere they want in the world conveniently from Prescott.”

Prescott Chamber of Commerce President Sheri Heiney was equally enthused.

“Los Angeles is the number two market for tourism in Prescott,” said Heiney in the July 17 story. “The added convenience of flying directly into Prescott will strengthen our appeal as a destination for leisure and business travel.”

Convenient and appealing, indeed.