After months of construction and renovation, Canyonlands Field Airport received its first commercial airline flight on May 1. With thirty passengers, it was the largest flight ever to fly into Moab, said Airport Director Judd Hill.
“When a station starts up you expect lower numbers. This was the largest SkyWest opening ever,” Hill said.
Some work remains to be done. The runway has to be grooved to allow water to run off, and will be repainted in a month’s time, Hill said. Detail work including light fixture finishing remains for the terminal and the parking lot is still under construction. However, that work will mostly be done through nighttime closures.
Some businesses at the airport are back up and running.
“Because of the construction going to when it did, not all the businesses have been able to get established inside,” Hill said. “People flying in yesterday and renting cars had to ... fill out paperwork [rather than] wireless computers doing all their check-in. They were able to function, but there’s ways we can function more efficiently.”
SkyWest, the air carrier serving the new airport, is now flying a 50-seat jet into Moab on a daily basis. Tickets are available online at united.com.
“We’re excited to partner with the airport and the community. It’s already a strong partnership. At SkyWest we thrive in providing service to these smaller markets like this and we do that because we believe it’s essential for any community to have reliable air service,” said Layne Watson, manager of corporate communication for SkyWest.
Overall, the runway project cost $13.8 million, paid for by 90 percent federal grants and 10 percent state and local funds. The terminal renovations cost $1.7 million. It was paid for by a combination of Community Impact Board grants, loans, and Grand County funds, Hill said.
“We had the distinction before of being the smallest TSA checkpoint in the United States ... now there’s definitely a significantly greater level of comfort and space available for traveling passengers … [now] we are twice the size, we are in the jet age now. We have the capability of moving significantly more people. The terminal itself has more than doubled in size,” Hill said. ”Having a reliable transportation system is definitely critical to support our current and future economy and utilize tourism. Having a robust air system will really help diversify our economy. Everyone wants to live in Moab, but if you’re a business that’s not tourism, you’ve got to be able to get out to the rest of the world.”