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New airport terminal poised to move onto pre-construction phase
Passenger numbers remain ‘above expectations’

Photo by Les Stukenberg.

With upwards of 25,000 passengers expected to travel from the Prescott Regional Airport in 2019, the City of Prescott continues to gear up for an $11.9 million new terminal building.

On Friday, March 8, the City of Prescott announced that the first six months of United Express/SkyWest’s flights had yielded passenger numbers that were “above expectations.”

After reaching the crucial 10,000-passenger total by the end of 2018, United Express/SkyWest reported a total of 12,347 departing passengers through the end of February 2019, according to a report by the airport.

(The airport’s 10,111 total passengers for 2018 included about 1,200 passengers from the previous provider, Great Lakes Airlines – for the months of January, February, and March).

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Gail Yungman helps Jeff Plotkin with flight information as United Express officially opened for business at the Prescott Regional Airport on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (Les Stukenberg/Courier file)

“By all accounts, PRC (Prescott Regional Airport) has continued to perform well above expectations,” Airport Director Robin Sobotta said. “We continue to see strong numbers of enplanements (people boarding in Prescott) and deplanements, (people getting off in Prescott).”

The airport’s report noted that the end of February marked the first full six months of commercial air service with United Express/SkyWest Airlines, the city’s Essential Air Service provider since Aug. 28, 2018.

Although January and February are historically “two of the lowest months for passenger traffic after the holidays,” the report noted that passenger numbers remained relatively high during the winter months.

The airport reportedly hit a 63.9 percent load factor with 1,982 passengers in January, and a 63.8 percent load factor with 1,628 passengers for February.

Currently, the airport is 6,390 passengers away from hitting 10,000 enplanements for calendar year 2019 to retain the “primary, non-hub” status – the level at which the airport is eligible for $1 million in federal aviation funding.

The news release added that “despite snow cancellations in February, PRC is still on track to hit 25,000 enplanements in 2019.”

TERMINAL PRE-CONSTRUCTION

The city’s passenger announcement comes just days before the Prescott City Council will consider a $141,000 “pre-construction contract” for the new airline terminal project that currently is under design.

The pre-construction contract is a part of the “construction manager at risk” process, which the city has opted to use for the airport terminal.

As opposed to the traditional design-bid-build process, the CMAR process allows the chosen construction contractor to get involved early in the design phase.

“They would be stepping in now to do a lot of value engineering,” Sobotta said.

The pre-construction work also would involve the establishment of a “guaranteed maximum price” for the terminal project.

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That number, which would commit the contractor to stay within a maximum cost, is due by May 15, Sobotta said.

She added that if the city were to disagree with the maximum price set during the pre-construction phase, it still could opt “to go out for a hard bid.”

If all goes as planned, the city plans to start construction on the new terminal in September 2019, with an anticipated completion by summer 2020.

‘ANTIQUATED’ TERMINAL

City officials maintain that the airport’s existing 1940s-era terminal is inadequate to serve the growing number of airline passengers.

A city memo states: “Prescott Regional Airport – Ernest A. Love Field is in need of a new airport terminal for a number of reasons, including lack of passenger queuing space, lack of airline operating space, lack of security processing space (preventing integration of new security technology), lack of land-side facilities, as well as antiquated and/or undersized utilities.”

The city advertised the request for statements of qualifications for the project beginning in December 2018.

The advertisement produced two statements of qualifications, and Sobotta said the joint venture from Willmeng/Fann was selected as the top-scoring proposal.

The Prescott City Council is expected to vote on the pre-construction services contract at its meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

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