Flight plan: What’s the future hold for Havasu’s municipal airport?

April 1, 2019

It’s been more than a decade since a commercial flight has embarked from the Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport, but there are several in the community that would like to see that change.

The airport hosted an open house Thursday evening to hear about the airport’s attempts to update its master plan.

According to Matt Quick, an associate with Coffman Associates, an airport consultant based in Scottsdale, the goal of the Airport Master Plan is to provide the framework needed to guide future airport development that will satisfy aviation demand at a reasonable cost.

The last plan was completed in 2009 and the Federal Aviation Administration recommends that public use airports like Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport prepare a new Airport Master Plan every seven to ten years or as local aviation conditions change.

Bill and Pam Rudolph have lived in Lake Havasu for nearly 30 years and Pam has been a pilot for 26.

“I’d prefer to fly commercially out of here (Havasu), but people think it’s too expensive to fly from here,” Bill Rudolph said.

Pam said part of the reason she and her husband came to the open house was out of concern for their hangar, which she said took them years to acquire.

“The little guys are a big part of this airport and what they really need is more hangar space so the planes can be out of the heat,” Pam said.

While the airport isn’t currently used for commercial flights, it is used by companies such as FedEx and UPS. Military craft use it, as well as air ambulances and new pilots in training.

The Arizona Department of Transportation named it the 2013 Airport of the Year.

According to a previous Today’s News Herald story, the airport logs about 50,000 takeoffs and landings, annually. It houses 142 aircraft on its 646-acre facility.

Many flight-training students from around the world routinely use the airport, and the facility also attracts corporate aircraft flying into and out of Southern California

But the commercial aspect is one that on the minds of many.

“Air service from Havasu is the No. 1 people here talk about,” said Mayor Cal Sheehy. “Commercial flights would generate more tourism-based business and it would also open up more opportunities for economic development.”

The airport, even when it did have commercial service, struggled to maintain carriers, typical of many rural or isolated airports.

When Mesa Airlines cancelled service in Havasu in 2007, the airport ultimately lost its federal Essential Air Service designation, which provides subsidies to airlines to offer flights from rural airports.

Quick pointed out some of the attributes of the Havasu airport – its 8,000-foot runway, free parking and its isolation from cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix – make it attractive for commercial flights.

“We’re trying to determine if the airport can expand, the future needs of the airport and how to get federal money to do that,” Quick said.

“This airport is set up for good expansion in the future,” Quick said.

But there will be challenges.

Bill Rudolph pointed out the limitations of taxiways.

“You can’t allow larger jets to sit out there because with the heat, they will sink into the pavement,” he said.

Comments on the study are being accepted by email at the above-mentioned website. The next step, according to Quick, is to layout potential plans for the airport.

“We’d like to see comments in the next few weeks,” he said. “There will be two more public workshops, about three or four months from now.

For more information, contact project manager Jeff Herb at 928-680-5474, Quick at 602-993-6999 or at www.lhc.airportstudy.com. There is information available there, including master plan documents, the study process and an overview.

Scott Shindledecker can be reached at 928-453-4237 or sshindledecker@havasunews.com.