Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Our view: Three cheers for busier airport

Access is essential in the modern world — the ability to get from point A to point B quickly, safely and on time. Improvements in such access, including flights from Santa Fe to Phoenix, need to be celebrated.

The flights start Thursday, when the first direct route from Phoenix to Santa Fe touches down. With the Phoenix flights, customers traveling out of the Santa Fe Municipal Airport can reach more than 1,000 destinations through some 14,250 daily flights, using the American Airlines and Oneworld Alliance Global Network. Santa Fe now has direct flights to Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles, on a seasonal basis, through American Airlines. United Airlines offers direct daily flights to Denver.

It didn’t just happen, either.

The Northern New Mexico Air Alliance, a nonprofit group of businesses, cities, counties and tourist attractions, has worked cooperatively to improve air travel access to Northern New Mexico.

Partner hotels are offering room deals. The city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County each contributed $50,000 to the effort, as did the village of Taos Ski Valley. The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce is organizing the effort, and this cooperation will pay dividends now and in the future.

Direct flights make it easier for business travelers to fly in and out; tourists can get to the fun more quickly, without the extra hour of driving from Albuquerque; and second-home residents will be enjoying drinks on the patio after a short flight and drive home.

Flight 3080 will take place on a new CR-700, 70-seat aircraft — there’s even access to Wi-Fi on board. Passengers can leave Santa Fe daily at 12:05 p.m., arriving in Phoenix at 1:35 p.m. The flight from Phoenix to Santa Fe leaves daily at 9:39 a.m. and arrives at 11:19 a.m. The first flight lands Thursday, to be greeted by a water cannon salute.

Just think, no worries about Interstate 25 traffic or the costs of parking at the Albuquerque International Sunport. The price of a direct flight to Phoenix will cost about the same as flying out of Albuquerque, depending on how far in advance the trip is booked (and of course, figuring no cost for rental car or shuttles). Flying out of or into Santa Fe might not always be as cheap — sometimes it is cheaper — but it always will be more convenient.

And that ease of travel helps both Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico residents who are heading West, as well as folks who want to visit New Mexico. Time, as they say, is money.

The attitude of Cameron Humphres, who manages the city of Santa Fe’s airport, is exactly right: “We look forward to what we believe will be a successful addition to our service at Santa Fe Municipal Airport and its economic potential. Our goal is to become the airport of choice and an important economic engine for Northern New Mexico.”

Airport of choice: We like the sound of that.


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