KINGMAN – When American Airlines expressed interest in starting daily service from Laughlin-Bullhead International Airport to Phoenix Sky Harbor, John Hastings set up a meeting for the next day.
The president of Mohave County Airport Authority has been trying to get daily service to Phoenix since 1998, meeting with United, Frontier, Allegiant, Southwest, Sun Country and every other airline that would give him the time.
His estimated 10,000 hours of working to land the Phoenix flight came to fruition last month when he announced American Airlines would start service on Feb. 16.
Flights on the 70-seat American Eagle aircraft will leave Sky Harbor at 2:35 p.m. each day and arrive at Laughlin-Bullhead at 3:40 p.m. They will depart Bullhead at 4:13 p.m. and arrive in Phoenix at 5:15 p.m.
“We got lucky to have a meeting with American Airlines,” Hastings said during a Nov. 7 presentation before the Mohave County Board of Supervisors. “It took a lot of work. I’ve met one of my two long-term goals. My second goal is to make it successful.”
That’s going to be a challenge, he admitted.
Hastings said he’s trying to get the word out on the airport’s web site and through the casinos in Laughlin, which will bring in most of the flight’s passengers.
“The truth is, we don’t have enough people in this area to support the service we’re getting,” the airport authority president said. “We’re probably 1 million people short. We have 330,000 within a 60-minute drive of the airport, but we need more.”
The flights are a little pricey at $241 roundtrip to Phoenix, but that’s typical of smaller airports, Hastings said.
Most airlines want to be on par with prices at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, he said.
However, the advantages of flying out of Bullhead are you don’t have to drive 220 miles roundtrip to Las Vegas, and you save parking fees, time going through security and headaches from traffic congestion, said Supervisor Hildy Angius, who represents Bullhead City.
“We in Bullhead City know how hard you worked, and to see it happen is really amazing,” Angius said. She plans to be on the first flight.
Angius noted that the airport code for Laughlin-Bullhead City is IFP, or International Fun Place.
Efforts to bring scheduled air service to Bullhead was boosted by a Small Community Air Service Development grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2008. The airport was awarded another $750,000 SCASD grant earlier this year.
The airport currently handles 220,000 passengers a year, and could add 51,000 passengers with the routes.
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