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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2012

CREATED BY REPUBLIC MEDIA CUSTOM PUBLISHING

PHOENIX-MESA GATEWAY AIRPORT

Just Plane Easy

A SOARING SUCCESS! Airport one of the fastest growing hubs in nation

INSIDE • Trending up • Taking flight • Non-stop convenience


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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2012

PHOENIX MESA GATEWAY AIRPORT

Soaring success!

Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is one of the fastest growing hubs in the nation

BY ART THOM ASON

Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport might not be Arizona’s best-kept secret, but its rise as one of the state’s spectacular economic success stories would surprise many. Commonly called Gateway, it is one of the fastest-growing hub airports in the nation and home to more than 40 companies, including innovative aerospace businesses and some of America’s top brands in general aviation. AIRPORT OF THE YEAR Named Arizona’s 2012 Airport of the Year, it is situated on the 400-plus acre site of the former Williams Air Force Base in southeast Mesa and is widely considered to be the nation’s most successful military base-to-civilian airport conversion. Its three military-built runways averaging 10,000 feet and capable of accommodating the world’s largest aircraft and Air Force One, gave it a leg up for a relatively quick transformation into the Valley’s reliever for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after Williams closed in 1993. In its dual role, Gateway functions as a commercial service airport with its own market and expanding customer base that benefit from an airport operations strategy that minimizes costs to both passengers and airlines. LOCATION, SERVICE, ECONOMY Gateway’s phenomenal growth is also attributed to its strategic southeast Mesa location, superior customer-friendly service, economy flights to cities not directly served by Sky Harbor and to major hubs that offer destinations throughout the world. Global hubs such as Chicago O’Hare, Denver International and Dallas/Ft. Worth are among 38 destinations on Gateway’s passenger-service itinerary with non-stop

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flights by Allegiant Air and Frontier and Spirit airlines. Gateway is one of Spirit’s 49 destinations, and among 77 cities served by Allegiant. Both are among the fastest-growing U.S. airlines, according to aviation-industry reports. Frontier flies to 80 destinations in the U.S. Allegiant begins service to Honolulu, Hawaii on Feb. 8. HISTORY OF SUCCESS Though the airport’s military history spanned more than five decades, Gateway and its adjacent higher-education campuses of Arizona State University Polytechnic and Chandler-Gilbert Community College are rapidly evolving into an urban airport environment with a sleek, low-profile and continually expanding passenger terminal that’s efficient, easily accessible and reflective of the airport’s mantra, “Just Plane Easy.” The terminal additions, however, have barely kept up with space needs that have

been an ongoing challenge for the airport’s executive director, Lynn Kusy, and a fivemember airport authority board representing Mesa, Phoenix, Gilbert, Queen Creek and the Gila River Indian Community. NUMBERS CLIMBING Passenger numbers have maintained a steady and steep climb since 2008 when Allegiant launched the airport’s first major passenger service. Gateway expects to serve an estimated 1.6 million passengers between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013, compared with 956,665 in fiscal 2011. The numbers are a significant part of the airport’s $685 million annual contribution to the Arizona economy. But Gateway is also the core of what airport officials and state business leaders hope will become a major international space, education and jobs center that strengthens the statewide economy and

lures high-paying jobs. With assets such as a skilled labor force, Foreign Trade Zone, Military Reuse Zone, freeway and rail access, and aircraft maintenance, modification, testing, and pilot training facilities, Gateway is widely perceived as a formidable contender for aerospace employers in an intensely competitive global market. In an attempt to enhance the airport’s enviable safety record, airport officials are currently investigating the possible expansion of the airport’s control tower. Architects and engineers are to determine if the tower’s basic infrastructure can support replacement of the cab atop the tower that houses air-traffic controllers. The tower is the second built for Williams Air Force Base. The secret may be out in Arizona, but the best is yet to come for Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport!

Q&A with Lynn Kusy, Airport Authority Executive Director Wonder why Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is one of the fastest growing airports in the country? Executive Director Lynn Kusy shares some insight into this national success story. Q: The economic downturn doesn’t seem to have affected Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Would you give a quick rundown on all the growth the airport’s experienced in recent years? A: The public perception of the airport’s rapid growth has mostly been due to passenger traffic, and that’s driven by the airlines – we’ll have three come mid-November – and the service they deliver. They keep offering new destinations, and customers respond to that. For the airport itself, the growth has been in the 19 new buildings we’ve added, mostly with private investment. They’ll bring lots of new jobs and business opportunities to the area. That’s the side of the airport that doesn’t draw as much attention but it’s just as important to economic development. Q: The airport’s motto is catchy: Just Plane Easy™. For those not familiar with the facility, what makes it easier for travelers, and what do your regulars enjoy about it? A: We try to do everything we can to make it Just Plane Easy™!

Much of the parking is adjacent to the terminal or a short walk away. Rental cars and pick-up lots are close, and we have short lines to get through security screening. Our TSA staff is helpful, and we get compliments about them all the time. The terminal building is simple and relatively small, but it has nice finishes and is inexpensive to maintain. We’re also easily accessible via the freeways. Some people drive further to use our airport just because we’re easier to navigate. Q: Let’s talk about the expansion of the passenger terminal and what else the public can expect to see happening at the airport. What’s the “big picture” for the facility? A: There’s plenty going on with the expansion of the passenger terminal. Last year, the airport was awarded $9.75 million from the FAA for the second phase of expansion, allowing us to enlarge the terminal by about 40 percent. We’re adding 30,000 square feet and two gates to the six we already have. With the growth we’re experiencing, though, we’ll be at capacity in about five years. So we’ve accelerated our plans for the construction of the east terminal, and we’re already working on financial projections and preliminary engineering plans. We’re also expecting to build a new taxiway in the industrial aviation part of the airport. That will allow for more private investment to create several hundred, maybe a thousand, new jobs. There’s a lot of capacity on this airport, and there’s no “build-out” in sight. It’s a community project that can go on for a long time.


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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2012

PHOENI��MESA GATEWAY AIRPORT

Trending up

Passenger terminal expands to meet passenger needs

BY ART THOM ASON

Like thousands of waistlines, PhoenixMesa Gateway Airport’s passenger terminal is in a perpetual expansion mode. As construction continues on the terminal’s fourth addition in the last five years, plans are underway for yet another expansion. Though the fifth build-out will be the last for the Charles L. Williams terminal near the airport’s western border, creating more passenger space is just beginning, says Lynn Kusy, the airport’s longtime executive director. That’s what happens when you have passenger population hikes such as the 60-plus percent increase in March compared to the same month in 2011. Airlines reported 167,550 passengers for the month compared to 104,205 passengers served the same period last year. EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS Although the spike caught airport officials by surprise, it was an example of the annual, double-digit passenger growth recorded over the last five years. “It has exceeded the expectations of

everybody, including aviation analysts and the author of the airport’s master plan,” Kusy said. “We’re running out of space, and it doesn’t seem to matter how many additions to the terminal we have.” The dilemma — though a good one to have, according to Kusy — has prompted airport officials to investigate the possibility of accelerating the first phase of a long-term $1.5 billion expansion plan to accommodate skyrocketing passenger numbers and other commercial development needs through at least 2030. MORE GATES COMING Most of the money would finance a new terminal with as many as 60 gates on the airport’s east side near Ellsworth Road. Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor, that airport’s largest passenger facility, opened in 1990 with 44 gates and five concourses. The terminal now has more than 90 gates. Gateway’s existing terminal — built in 1968 for the airport’s predecessor, Williams Air Force Base — now has eight gates. The

Airport terminal final addition, at a cost of $6.1 million, will give the terminal 10 gates by late 2013. Passenger service will also benefit from the addition of 20 ticket counters, bringing to 32 the total number of ticket booths. The existing terminal is expected to reach

capacity in 2014 with 2 million passengers that year, Kusy said. Anticipating that the growth trend will continue, airport officials said the airport must squeeze as much efficiency out of the existing terminal as possible.

Taking flight: Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, from its beginnings until today • September 1941: A pilot-training base that later became Williams Air Force Base and ultimately, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, opens in southeast Mesa. More than 26,500 pilots graduated from the base over its 52-year history. • The base was originally named Mesa Military Airport. In October 1941 the name was changed to Higley Field. The Army renamed the base as Williams Field in February 1942, and in 1948 the facility was assigned the name Williams Air Force Base. The base was named in honor of Arizona native and Army Air Corps 1st Lt. Charles Linton Williams. Williams died on July 6, 1927 when his Boeing PW-9A aircraft crashed near Fort DeRussy, Hawaii.

Williams Army Airfield, 1941. Left: Lt. Charles L. Williams Below: An early entrance to the base.

• September 1993: The base is closed at the recommendation of the Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission, eliminating 3,800 jobs and $300 million in annual business from the area. • March 1994: The former base is opened as Williams Gateway Airport. • May 2001: President George W. Bush is first passenger and the first sitting president at Williams Gateway Airport Terminal. • Feb. 23, 2003: Allegiant Air is first chartered flight from Williams Gateway Airport. • April 2006: Vision Airlines begins service to North Las Vegas Airport. The airline discontinued the flights in August 2008.

• October 2007: Allegiant Air launches the airport’s first regularly scheduled passenger service with flights to 13 cities. The airline now serves more than 35 destinations from Gateway. • November 2008: The first of five projects to create more passenger-terminal space is completed with construction of a 9,557square-foot annex at a cost of $2.2 million. • January 2009: The original terminal building. which is just west of the annex is remodeled to make its space more functional and user-friendly. The price tag is $220,000. • November 2010: The West Terminal Expansion project is completed, adding 25,000-square-feet of space. Two passenger gates are also added along with a larger rental car area, concessions, hold rooms, security areas, and baggage claim areas. • The project also included expansion of the terminal’s unique outdoor passenger courtyard and addition of a restaurant and seating situated within a regional desert-themed landscape.


Soaring over PhoenixMesa Gateway Airport

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President Obama flew into Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport earlier this year.

• January 25, 2012: President Barack Obama flies into Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. • March 2012: Spirit Airlines becomes Gateway’s second regularly-scheduled carrier with flights to Dallas/Ft. Worth and Boston. • July 2012: Spirit announces that it will launch service to Chicago O’Hare beginning in November. • August 6, 2012: Frontier Airlines becomes Gateway’s third regularly-scheduled airline with daily, non-stop service to Denver beginning in November. • August 28, 2012: Spirit announces it will begin daily non-stop service to Denver beginning Oct. 4. • September 2012: Airport opens fourth terminal expansion, a 32,000-square-foot addition that includes two aircraft gates, the terminal’s main arrival lobby and areas for retail concessions, baggage claim and car rental service. • Fall 2013: Work is expected to begin on the final expansion to the existing passenger terminal, a project that will add gates 9 and 10 for airline service.


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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2012

PHOENIX MESA GATEWAY AIRPORT

Airlines offer non-stop convenience and affordability B Y G R E M LY N B R A D L E Y WA D D E L L

It’s hard to believe, but less than two years ago, there was only one low-cost carrier — Allegiant Airlines — serving Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. In late 2011, though, Spirit Airlines soared onto the scene with affordable rates as well. And next week, Frontier Airlines debuts daily service between Mesa and Denver International Airport.

Here’s a quick peek at the three companies, all of which deliver non-stop flights and affordability.

ALLEGIANT Whether you need to get to Appleton, Wisconsin, or San Francisco, Allegiant Travel Company’s low-cost service between P-MGA and an additional 30-plus cities around the country makes the journey a lot easier on the wallet. The Las Vegas-based carrier, founded in 1997, has an all-jet fleet and a catchy motto: “Travel is our deal.” Indeed, the company’s stated goal is to connect those in smaller cities to popular leisure destinations, often through bundling car and hotel rental packages with airfare. Allegiant recently announced it will offer service between P-MGA and Honolulu International Airport starting in February 2013.

SPIRIT AIRLINES With an all-Airbus fleet that flies non-stop to Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Denver, as well as continuing service to several other cities including Los Angeles, Detroit and Fort Lauderdale, Spirit touts ultra-low base fares and gives customers the option to purchase extra services for a fee. Some of those little niceties are seat assignments, larger seats that offer extra legroom and baggage checking. And thanks to its modern fleet and configurations, which the Florida-based company says allow their planes to burn less fuel per seat than their rivals, Spirit claims to be the country’s most environmentally friendly airline.

FRONTIER AIRLINES The nearly 20-year-old carrier calls itself “a whole different animal,” and that approach extends far beyond the colorful portraits of its 60 “spokesanimals” painted on the fleet’s tail sections. Frontier, a wholly owned subsidiary of Indianapolisbased Republic Airways Holdings, Inc., prides itself on standing out from the crowd by offering reasonable fares, flexibility, “creature comforts” and a friendly and accommodating attitude. On Nov. 15, Frontier begins offering nonstop flights between P-MGA and Denver International Airport, making it the first carrier at the East Valley airport to provide daily daytime service to a major metropolitan airport and international hub.

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Did you know? Interesting factoids about PhoenixMesa Gateway Airport: • Gateway Airport has added more than 1.1 million square-feet of new facilities/office/hangar space since the Air Force Base closed in 1994. • Gateway Airport has not one but three corporate aircraft maintenance service centers – Cessna, Embraer, and Hawker Beechcraft. These service centers add to the economy by filling up hotel rooms year round as operators fly their aircraft into the East Valley. • Gateway Airport was Arizona Department of Transportations’ “Airport of the Year” in both 2004 and 2012. • Gateway Airport played a pivotal role in the fight against the 2002 RodeoChediski wild fire as air tanker crews based their fire-fighting aircraft at the Airport. • The combined runway length of

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Gateway’s three runways is 300’ longer than the combined length of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport’s three runways. • NBC’s television movie, “Invasion,” starring Luke Perry and Kim Cattrall was filmed exclusively at Gateway Airport in 1996 while scenes from Universal Studios’ “The Kingdom,” starring Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner (above) were shot at the Airport in 2007. • U.S. President’s George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Vice-President Dick Cheney have used Gateway Airport as an alternative to flying into Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport. • Gateway Airport has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense as the Top Reuse facility in the country for repurposing facilities and stimulating the local economy.

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Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport-2012