FARMINGTON – The last commercial flight to service the Four Corners Regional Airport was in 2017, leaving residents of northwest New Mexico with two options: to drive an hour to the Durango-La Plata County Airport or three hours to Albuquerque International Sunport.
But that may be soon to change.
Construction is underway to meet federal regulations for commercial flights at the Farmington airport, the city has announced.
Construction began Sept. 30, and Farmington hopes to begin offering air service again in summer 2020, according to the city’s announcement.
When the previous commercial flight provider, Great Lakes Airlines, decided to remove services in November 2017, the city was already in talks with an airline consultant to create a plan to improve the airport and attract a new flight provider, Airport Manager Mike Lewis said. Without commercial flights, the Farmington airport has offered only private flights through Vernon Aviation.
The city, which owns and operates the airport, secured a $3.45 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to expand the runway, repaint the airfield and install fog sealing to extend the life of the runway. The FAA awarded an additional $850,000 grant to help market the new service to the surrounding community, Lewis said.
Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes said the airport will be brought “back into regional relevance” through the improvements. “The Farmington and Durango communities, and our entire region, benefit when air travelers have options that result in lower airfares due to airlines competing for customers,” Mayes said in a written statement.
Lewis said the region has a long history of aviation, with Monarch Airlines introducing flights to Albuquerque and Denver in 1947.
While running services from the Four Corners Regional Airport, Great Lakes Airlines often struggled with pilot shortages, leading to frequently delayed or canceled flights. The city hopes to prevent those issues with Sky West, the jet service it is in talks with, Lewis said.
While a date for air service has not been determined, Lewis said he will be traveling with Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett to Utah next week to meet with representatives from Sky West to “further explore the timing and the type of service they plan to provide to the community.”