Fri, 19 Jun '09
Arizona Budget Negotiations Threaten Airport
Literally hundreds of thousands of people may have had the opportunity to experience The Grand Canyon from the air. Scenic rides over the gash in the Arizona desert have been a staple of family vacations for decades. It is still a way to get a unique view of one of natures’ wonders.
In a terse letter to FAA Western-Pacific Regional Administrator William C. Withycombe, Arizona DOT Aeronautics Division Director Barklay Dick said a dispute with the Arizona Legislature over budgets could close Grand Canyon National Park Airport.
"Dear Mr. Withycombe:
If continuing negotiations between the Arizona legislature and the Governor do not result in an approved budget for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, the State of Arizona may cease many of its services. Among those services is the operation of the Grand Canyon National Park Airport.
If there is not an approved budget for the new fiscal year prior to July 1, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) will close the Grand Canyon National Park Airport at midnight on June 30, 2009. Should the airport be closed, it will remain closed until further notice.
Closure of the airport will be communicated through a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued by the airport manager. The standard “X” marking will be placed on each end of the airport’s runway to indicate the runway is closed to traffic."
If the state of AZ doesn’t get a budget approved there’s going to be a whole lot of other things that’ll cease operation. As an Arizonan, I’m much more concerned about the ramifications of other services ceasing in the interim of this budget crisis. Airports around the state won’t shut down because of Fed funding and NAS issues. But in the event of a state gov shut-down, many will temporarily lose state funds. All of the budget proposals so far include significant airport funding cutbacks. But I applaud the fact that this state is trying to spend within its means, in a trying economy, and attempting to recover from a former governor that screwed the state by pissing away its cash “set-aside” reserves. Governor Brewer refuses to let this state to become the next Kalifornia!
Most of the flights to GCN are from Scenic Airways, using very old Beechcraft 200s, or from Vision Airlines using D328s, or helos. But GCN has their own sightseeing runs as well, plus people flying in on their own. IIRC, they have their own little SFRA, similar to the one over LAX, and it is always busy.
Yeah Scenic with their Twin Otters and Caravan, that other outfit that I flew on has a few piston Cessnas (including the 207 I was on), and a couple of helicopter companies using JetRangers and EC-135’s. It may not seem like much if you just look at the tracking page, however all those sightseeing flights operate VFR, so they won’t show up there. It can be a pretty busy place. KGCN has a tower, a 9000’ runway, a VOR and ILS, so it’s not like some little podunk backwoods turf field or something. I’d like to see it remain open, especially during the peak of the tourist season. Also, how many people would lose jobs due to the airport closing? ATC people, pilots & customer service people with all those touring companies, FBO people, airport management & maintenence… it adds up, especially in a small town.
Sad if this happens! I was the station manager for Eagle Canyon Airlines and Scenic at GCN from 1996-2000. I left shortly after Eagle purchased Scenic from Skywest. At that time Eagle operated five Fokker F-27s, 25 C-402s and several 207s on tours from Vegas carrying at 800 pax per day in the summer and 200 pax daily during winter season. Back then it wasn’t usual to see Champion and Sun Country 727s and Casino Express 737-200s operating charters from Vegas and SoCal. Since 9/11 traffic at GCN has declined significantly and still appears to be down.
On another note GCN has to be one of the only airports left that still uses a wood burning fire place.
no offense but that grand canyon airport is a ripoff, me and my grandma were up there and they charged an arm and a leg for a flight 45 minutes, about 250 each, and they fight like hell to keep other planes out. similar to river boat rides only different. i guess im more upset with the FBO than the airport.
please i dont even know what trolling is. im just saying for 5 people to pay 250 each for a 45 minute ride is excessive, i dont even think a 737 costs 1250 an hour to run even with just 5 passengers. There are flights leaving prescott or payson or flagstaff or even deer valley or mesa or glendale that are cheaper and they have to fly over 100 miles just to get to the canyon.