Vision for Gateway beginning to take flight - East Valley Tribune: News

Vision for Gateway beginning to take flight

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Posted: Friday, April 24, 2009 2:35 pm | Updated: 1:20 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

By 2014, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in the eyes of many civic and business leaders will look much different. The airport celebrated 15 years of service with a luncheon Monday that marked many of its milestones and the hard work of past leaders, while directing an eye toward the future.

By 2014, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in the eyes of many civic and business leaders will look much different.

The airport celebrated 15 years of service with a luncheon Monday that marked many of its milestones and the hard work of past leaders, while directing an eye toward the future.

Just five years away, airport officials said, the Charles L. Williams passenger terminal will be extended by thousands of square feet, and a new fire station is also planned for the airport.

“We’re breaking ground this fall for an additional 25,000 square feet of terminal space,” said Brian Sexton, a spokesman for the airport. “Five years from now the airport terminal will be completely built out.”

Civic officials said during the luncheon that the airport was well on its way to completing those and many more planned improvements by 2014.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith told the large group at the Arizona Golf Resort in east Mesa that the efforts of civic leaders who came before him led the airport down the 15-year path he described as successful.

“This is truly a team effort and we’re enjoying the successful partnership we now have,” he said. “It’s an exciting time.”

Smith, chairman of the Williams Gateway Airport Authority, touted the more than $500 million in annual economic activity generated by the airport, along with the more than 4,000 jobs created for the region.

The airport authority includes Mesa, Gilbert, Phoenix, Queen Creek and the Gila River Indian Community.

Sexton said one example of the economic vitality pumped into the local economy is experienced every time a plane lands at the airport.

“Each Allegiant Air flight is bringing in an estimated $37,000 in spending, which is a huge economic benefit,” Sexton said, citing a study done by the airport that estimates the economic impact of tourism and flights. He said the airport currently experiences upwards of 50 flights per week, with expectations for growth in the future.

Sexton said avenues of employment at the airport include service stations for the several plane manufacturers with repair facilities, as well employment through the airport.

Airport executive director Lynn Kusy cited future growth with Allegiant Air as something to look forward to.

“Next year we expect to see over 600,000 passengers,” he said, noting that in 2008 the airport did half that projected number with about 300,000 passengers.

Kusy said the airport and the airline had come along way from 2007, when Allegiant began offering scheduled service.

Smith told the audience that projects like the planned Gaylord resort, which would be the state’s largest resort and convention center, would contribute to the airport’s success, as well.

“In the next five years, you’ll see a terminal that will expand,” he said. “We’re flat out of room.”

Smith said growth at the airport was tied to the success of the community. He noted developments, such as an expansion on the campus of Arizona State University Polytechnic, the new fire station planned for the southern portion of the airport’s property, and the terminal expansion as key milestones and goals.

He said the image of the airport would change in a way that would complement the surrounding communities and existing businesses.

“The vision of Gateway is only beginning to be realized,” he said.

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