New Mexico airport ready to thrive, city stewardship praised

March 22, 2012

Las Cruces AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Jim Rosell presents to Las Cruces Mayor Kenneth Miyagishima a letter of thanks from AOPA for the city’s continued support of Las Cruces International Airport during a March 19 city council meeting.

The city-owned airport in Las Cruces, N.M., has weathered the economic downturn and is poised for resurgence, thanks in large part to municipal leaders with their eye on the future, and the benefits the airport provides to the community.

Las Cruces International has taken its lumps during the economic downturn, losing an FBO (and a restaurant), but the city’s commitment has not been shaken. Federal grants, which the city sought from the FAA Airport Improvement Program, are funding a $5.5 million taxiway reconstruction now under way. The city is planning construction of a firefighter training facility—along with a new fire station on the field. The airport is used by general aviation operators and the U.S. Navy (which conducts flight training during winter months), and serves as a destination for light cargo carriers. In the not-too-distant future, the construction of Spaceport America promises another lift. City Transportation Director Lisa Murphy told the Las Cruces Sun-News that the dedication of the spaceport drew a crowd, with more than 20 business jets parked on the ramp for the occasion. City officials are working to capitalize on the location—Las Cruces is the closest airport to the new spaceport.

The boom in activity caught the attention of AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Jim Rosell, who personally delivered a letter of thanks from AOPA Manager of Airport Policy John Collins to Mayor Kenneth Miyagishima during a March 19 city council meeting.

“We recognize that it is difficult for general aviation airports such as LRU to thrive in the current economy, and that creativity when it comes to attracting new business to the airport is necessary,” Collins wrote. “That is why we are pleased to note the recent announcement of a plan to grow the businesses at the airport by offering very attractive initial lease rates. The availability of aeronautical services on general aviation airports is of great interest to our members as consumers of those services.”

Rosell reports the compliments were well-received, and the mayor still remembers fondly his first flight in a GA aircraft, which Rosell provided.