Williams Gateway should be first full-size reliever airport - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Williams Gateway should be first full-size reliever airport

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Posted: Monday, September 26, 2005 9:44 pm | Updated: 8:25 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

That once again Scottsdale is out in front of other East Valley cities on something is not news; it’s part of the culture in Scottsdale to be first and best and biggest and most.

Those who know this are therefore probably not too surprised that it is Scottsdale announcing that it was fielding offers from not less than three passenger airlines for scheduled service at charter-oriented Scottsdale Airport, in contrast to Mesa, which for years now has been trying to get the airlines to do the same at the larger Williams Gateway Airport.

“We don’t solicit like Williams Gateway does to bring airlines in,” Scottsdale aviation director Scott Gray told the Tribune’s John Leptich. “We let them come to us.”

Sounds a bit smug, but still, give Scottsdale the credit for relying on its longstanding can-do reputation — one that has been reasserting itself more in the past few years after about five or six years of isolationism — to attract interest from these airlines, any one of which could be starting scheduled flights within a year.

We always thought it would be Williams — a former U.S. Air Force base — that would be the Valley’s first alternative to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for passengers seeking scheduled airline service.

If Scottsdale Airport does land a commercial carrier first it would mean planes no larger than 50-passenger jets, as it isn’t large enough for the big birds. If that embarrasses Mesa, which could handle the biggest jetliners, into accelerating its pace, so much the better.

Reliever airports are inevitable in this fast-growing metropolitan area. Demand will ultimately lead to it. For all of its improvements Sky Harbor, because of its sheer size, is becoming more difficult for passengers and those picking them up and dropping them off. An often-talked-about fourth runway isn’t going to make things any easier. Tell the truth: What’s a better experience, DFW or Love Field? LAX or John Wayne (Orange County)? Been to Tucson International Airport lately? What a breeze!

So, Mesa, let’s get our flaps up and our noses pointed the right way as soon as possible. Williams Gateway spokesman Brian Sexton told Leptich that his airport should have scheduled passenger flights running by the end of this year. All right, then. Maybe Mesa might be first in this, after all.

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