The airport experienced nearly a 15 percent increase in operations and a 31 percent jump in jet fuel sales last month compared to the July 2013.
Airport Manager Dave Pearce told Ruidoso village councilors at their meeting last week that 792 takeoffs and landings occurred in July for a daily average of 25.5 compared to 21.7 last year for the same month. Sales of Jet A fuel also were up from a daily average of 537.7 gallons in July 2013 compared to 777.5 gallons last month, he said, Sales for 100LL fuel, used for smaller recreational planes, exceeded last year at 170.6 gallons a day compared to 121.1 gallons.
Noting the increase, Councilor Lynn Crawford asked "Where are they all coming from? That's a big jump and every month there's an increase. Are you giving something away?"
Pearce assured the councilor he is not giving away anything except good service.
"We did some heavy marketing," he said, with opportunities at the Triple A conference and the New Mexico State Aviation Conference. An increased presence on Facebook through the effort of Assistant Airport Manager Sean Parker and several of the younger people on staff invited more interaction at no cost, he said.
"They're coming primarily from Midland, Houston and Dallas," Pearce said. "They have changed the type of aircraft they own. It used to be smaller single engine, but they have graduated to where they are owning jet-type aircraft. They're coming in to utilize the area. We've seen that by looking at what's happening at the restaurants, the hotels and rental agencies, It parallels what is happening at the airport.
"We've also had a huge impact from the (Ruidoso Downs Race) track. I can't say enough about what that brings into this community. We unload daily folks getting off charter airplanes who are tied to the track one way or another, either renting houses or they have houses here, bringing friends and family and are heading down to spend money."
He also initiated some marketing with local golf courses, Pearce said.
He and his staff hope to keep this momentum going, but the biggest obstacle is running out of covered space for airplanes, he said.
Pearce emphasized that the success isn't tied to just one aspect. "I think it's everything, the community, the race track," he said. "It's what's offered downtown, some of unique marketing and what we have to offer at the airport. There's an undertone that this is the place to come."
Patrons of the airport seem to like the way they're treated by the staff of the municipal airport, Pearce said.
Crawford said the airport looks great and as a business owner, he hears from visitors, "It's one of friendliest (airports) they use."
In a related aviation issue, with the success of flights out of Roswell to Dallas, Texas, Ruidoso officials are considering kicking in some guarantee money for a proposed twice-a-day flight schedule from Roswell to Phoenix, Ariz.
"We've been having some meetings with a representative from Roswell about American Airlines flights, two a day from the Roswell airport to Phoenix, and we feel that they would be very helpful to our citizens," Mayor Tom Battin said during the meeting. "That's still in the process and we'll keep you informed."
Village Manager Debi Lee reported that Bill Armstrong, a Roswell businessman who was instrumental in securing the Dallas flights, gave a presentation to the Lodgers Tax Advisory Board and requested funding for a marketing plan that would support air service west. He asked for support for a study to determine if the flight would be advantageous for the area of New Mexico that includes the village, she said.
He returned to the committee with more information Thursday.
"This second (presentation was to) look to raising money for the minimum revenue guarantee," Lee said. "If you recall a few years ago, we were asked to do this for the flight to Dallas from Roswell. The village supported (the flights) and committed funding. However, the money never was used, because the flights were so successful they didn't need the guarantee."
The commitment this time would not kick in until 2015 and 2016, she said, adding, "I think they are asking for $25,000."
- Source: http://www.ruidosonews.com
Sierra Blanca Regional Airport is considered an economic engine for the Ruidoso community.
(Courtesy M. Sean Parker)