BULLHEAD CITY — John Hastings, Mohave County Airport Authority president, made a long-anticipated announcement at a celebratory luncheon on Monday that American Airlines will provide daily scheduled passenger service to and from Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport.
Hastings noted the arrival of American Airlines marks a new era of economic growth and enhanced quality of life for the region as a whole.
“Our most recent Economic Impact Study indicates this new air service will generate a regional economic impact of over $13 million annually,” Hastings said. “In addition to a new era of economic growth, we are also marking the end of an era. One can no longer say ‘You can’t get here from there.’ Instead, we can now safely say ‘Our region is open to the world.’ ”
Service begins Feb. 16, with a daily nonstop American Eagle flight leaving Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport at 2:35 p.m. and arriving at Laughlin/Bullhead at 3:40 p.m.
Another daily nonstop flight will leave Bullhead City at 4:13 p.m., arriving in Phoenix at 5:15 p.m.
The plane, a CRJ700, a regional airliner manufactured by Bombardier, has 70 seats, six of which will be reserved for first-class passengers, Hastings said.
The announcement is the culmination of more than a decade of labor on the part of Airport Authority staff and its many community partners.
“We have been waiting for this news for a really long time and we are beyond excited for this opportunity,” said Jeremy Keating, airport director, in a news release.
Efforts to attract scheduled air service took a positive turn in 2008 when the airport was first awarded a Small Community Air Service Development grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Efforts continued to gain momentum in 2010 when Sixel Consulting Group was hired by the airport to help organize air service development strategies.
This summer, the airport authority was awarded another grant which provided $750,000 toward the recruitment of an airline to bring scheduled air service to the community. The required $750,000 match was guaranteed through the partnership between public entities like the city of Bullhead City and private entities including the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce, the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce, Laughlin Tourism Commission, the Laughlin casino resort hotels, as well as dozens of local businesses and individual community members. An additional $600,000 of In-Kind support was pledged for marketing and advertising.
There are 16 major carriers in Phoenix and American, through American Eagle, will provide passengers with connections to 50 cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico, he said. In addition, 340 destinations will be available with one or two stops, he said.
Hastings said he has been trying to secure service for 18 years.
“Now the hard work really begins” to make sure the service is profitable, he said. “If it’s not used and not profitable, we’ll lose it,” as been the airport’s past experience.
“Nobody in this room will live long enough” to see another carrier take its place, Hastings warned.
“Please make this a smashing success by telling everyone you know and don’t know” about it, he said.
American Airlines also announced Monday the February start of flights to and from Phoenix and Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, Calif.
For more information, go to AA.com.