For Gateway Airport, the pandemic is so over – East Valley Tribune

Partly cloudy skies. Low around 85F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph..
Partly cloudy skies. Low around 85F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: September 4, 2022 @ 3:38 pm
A major improvement at Gateway Airport is the construction of a long-delayed new flight control tower, which is being built near the antiquated tower. The new tower is scheduled to open later this year.

A major improvement at Gateway Airport is the construction of a long-delayed new flight control tower, which is being built near the antiquated tower. The new tower is scheduled to open later this year.
Two years after the pandemic hit Arizona, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport has returned to normal including a first in airport history.
Gateway Airport Executive Director J. Brian O’Neill’s January report said more than 641,000 passengers came through its terminals so far this fiscal year and that they are on pace to match their 2019 total of 1.7 million people.
 For the first time in airport history, passengers briefly filled all 2,809 spaces in its largest parking lot, the Ray Road Economy Parking Lot, over the Christmas holiday.
“We’ve officially recovered from the pandemic,” airport spokesman Ryan Smith declared.
In November, 147,285 passengers passed through the airport’s gates – an 8% increase over the previous record set two years prior, according to a release.
The airport’s largest carrier, Allegiant, contributed to much of this increase with flights twice weekly to places such as Orange County, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. 
The airport’s master plan update in June 2020 predicted the airport will have 1.2 million passenger enplanements and 369,000 total aircraft operations annually by 2038.
A major hurdle to make this possible remains the opening of the new $30 million air traffic control tower that’s slated for completion this summer.
The 190-foot tower is 60 feet taller than the old tower built in 1970 and will provide greater space and unobstructed views of the airspace for air traffic controllers.
Airport improvements will continue afterward with work on the $5 billion terminal modernization project.
Officials look to replace Gates 1-4, which currently sit in temporary buildings that were built approximately 13 years ago. 
The terminal modernization project will add new permanent gates that will allow the airport to operate five gates simultaneously, add more space for social distancing, and improve ADA-compliance. 
All these changes have already helped the airport add $1.8 billion in total output toward the local economy, according to the 2021 Arizona Aviation Economic Impact Study conducted by the Arizona Department of Transportation. 
The study also found that the airport employs 10,224 people earning approximately $524 million in annual wages and benefits. 
Passengers won’t be the only ones taken care of, as the runway is under repairs that will allow nearly any size plane to land at the airport, even a 747. 
“There’s not an airplane that hasn’t or can’t land here,” Smith said as he explained what makes the airport a “convenient alternative” in the Valley. 
With this increased activity comes the increase in noise O’Neill’s report also acknowledged with 59 airport noise calls, up from 46 in 2021. 
The executive director’s report also said general aviation flight numbers were slightly down but this could certainly change with the completion of the Executive Airpark’s 183,000 square-foot hangar complex planned for completion this summer. 
Smith said each of the three hangars will have the capability to house a Boeing 737 as part of the facilities maintenance, repair, and overhaul operations.
All these projects have been made possible by $5 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden in November. The money will be spent over five years to further upgrade the airport. 
One project already underway is SkyBridge Arizona, a venture with commercial partners that will add industrial buildings, hangars and a hotel to the airport property
This project will allow commerce to be easily processed and shipped between the U.S. and Mexico with the Unified Cargo Processing Program. 
A joint venture between both nation’s customs agencies that will allow shipments to fly from Gateway to anywhere in Mexico without additional processing in Mexico City. 
The 360-acre, $230 million project is projected to add more than 14,000 jobs to the area and have more than 10,000 cargo flights per year by 2036. 
In November, Gulfstream announced it will construct a 225,000-square-foot maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility, part of a $70 million investment by the private jet company into the airport. 
“The arrival of Gulfstream is further proof that Gateway Airport is one of the best locations in North America for MRO and other aerospace facilities,” Mesa Mayor and Airport Authority Chairman John Giles, said. “The hundreds of high-wage jobs and educational partnerships that will be generated with this facility will have a profound impact on the entire region.”
Smith said the distant future holds an even bigger goal of building a new terminal dubbed Gateway East that will also include 400 acres of retail and industrial businesses. 
But for now, Smith said the airport is focusing on what he believes could be their busiest spring season in a long time. 
“We are looking forward to one of the busiest spring travel seasons in the airport’s history,” he said.  
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Oh NO! My worst fears are coming true. What that means to me is that the interminable , long lines will get longer. That really concerns me! I cannot stand in a line for an hour without sitting down to rest my hips. Do I think TSA will care? NO! Will the lines inside the terminal be any shorter? No! Longer, with more standing in line time. Air travel is no longer a good experience, for anyone!
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