The joint venture, Willmeng Construction Inc., a Phoenix-based commercial general contractor and Fann Contracting, a Prescott-based heavy civil construction company, recently celebrated the completion of the new 18,460-square-foot passenger terminal at Prescott Regional Airport Ernest A. Love Field.
More than 50 people, including Prescott City Council members, Airport Advisory Committee members, and construction/design team members, met Wednesday, March 31, to celebrate the opening of Prescott Airport’s new passenger terminal. The 18,460-square-foot building opened for business Tuesday, March 30, and a small ribbon-cutting was held the next day.
The project broke ground in January 2020, and despite the pandemic, construction continued throughout 2020 and early 2021 and stayed on schedule to open in March 2021 as projected.
“It all started when our community answered the call in 2018 when we said we needed 10,000 enplanements so we could achieve primary commercial status and qualify for the funding we needed for this project,” Miller said, adding that throughout the year, local residents got on board to help pump up the numbers.”
“We heard so many stories about individuals and groups who just jumped on a plane and took day trips to Los Angeles and Denver for no other purpose other than to help us achieve those 10,000 enplanements,” she said. “And we did it. We’re here today. We got the funding.”
Not only did the airport get a $10 million Federal Aviation Administration grant in late 2019, but it also received $1.25 million from the state. In fact, over the past three years or so, Airport Director Sobotta said the Prescott Regional Airport has received about $26 million in federal and state funding for the terminal and other airport improvements. Along the way, the airport has attracted two airlines — United Express (operated by SkyWest Airlines) with flights to Denver and Los Angeles, and Boutique Air, with flights to Phoenix.
With the opening of the new terminal, Miller said, “This is really is a new era for our terminal tenants.” Along with Sobotta and Miller, the ribbon-cutting event also included remarks from Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli; Jared Bass with the Dibble Engineering design team; Keith Sabia with the Willmeng Construction team; Mike S’Dao, United Airlines West Cost Senior Regional Manager; and Danielle Rickert, board chair of the Prescott Chamber of Commerce.
Sabia told the crowd that the project benefited from its construction timing. The $15 million project would cost $16.5 million to $17 million in today’s dollars, he said. S’Dao commented on the terminal’s design, which includes vaulted wood ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the runway, and a two-side fireplace. “When I look at this terminal, it’s just beautiful,” he said.
After the ribbon-cutting, S’Dao was fielding questions from local residents about the possibility of the airline adding other destinations to its current Denver and Los Angeles flights. He responded that United is currently working to instill trust in the public with its CleanPlus program. Before new destinations would be added, he said the passenger numbers would need to rise again after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Referring to the United Express passengers who arrived at the terminal during the ribbon-cutting event, Mengarelli said, “Seeing all of these folks coming through the terminal today, I couldn’t be more pleased with the terminal and the opportunity to be here today to start the celebration.”
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