Additional Flights and Construction for Grand Junction's Airport

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Business and leisure travelers may soon find flying in and out of Grand Junction more convenient.

Starting this week, Delta will add a third flight between Grand Junction and Salt Lake City, but that's not all the airport has in store for its future.

"We've got additional flights from both American and Delta starting for the summer season," says Rex Tippetts, Director of Aviation.

This is the first time in two years the airport has had services added for summer, and it's making for an optimistic outlook.

"Right now, we've been really happy just to maintain what we have with what's going on with the reduction of services nationwide. So to actually add two flights this summer, we were pretty pleased to see that happen," Tippetts says.

"Our visitors always comment on how friendly our airport is, how easy it is to come in and access it. It's a wonderful airport. We're very happy about these improvements and these additional services," says Barbara Bowman, Grand Junction Visitors and Convention Bureau.

The additional flights will add one hundred seats each day and keep ticket prices down.

"It will mean our airfares stay in the reasonable to low range because without the additional seats the low factors would be high and airfares would continue to increase," Tippetts says.

The airport also has big construction plans. A face lift is in the works, including a new runway.

"The runway has not been reconstructed in 20-30 years, so like any pavement service, it tends to deteriorate and fail," he says.

Instead of reconstructing the current runway, a new runway will be built just 650 feet North of the current one. This will allow the current runway to remain in use during construction.

"To rebuild the current runway in its current location, we would have to close for almost a year because we would have to build it to current design standards. We don't want to lose our air service and the economic impact to the community for that runway being closed for that long. We'd never recover from it," Tippetts says.

The airport also plans to build a new administrative building and fire station-- strong signs for the city's future.

"People are wanting to travel again so that's a very good and a positive economic indicator for this community," Bowman says.

Starting June 14th, American Airlines will add a daily flight both ways between Grand Junction and Dallas-Fort Worth.

The construction project is currently in the design phase. Actual construction will begin this fall, but don't expect it to be completed anytime soon.. The large undertaking will take 12 to 14 years to complete.

It will cost more than $100 million to complete. Tippetts says 95 percent of that comes from the Airport Improvements Fund.

"When you buy an airline ticket, there's a tax on it which goes into the Airport Improvement Fund and goes back to support airport infrastructure," he says.

The rest will come from local funds generated by the airport. Tippetts says it will not increase Mesa County or City of Grand Junction taxes.

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