Plan for more flights concerns residents - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Plan for more flights concerns residents

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Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 6:43 am | Updated: 1:04 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The success of Grand Canyon Airlines Inc. in Scottsdale does not signal an increase of commercial flights into the city, airport officials said Tuesday.

The City Council approved a long-term lease Monday night for Grand Canyon Airlines Inc. to operate a ticket counter and office in the main terminal of the Scottsdale Airport.

"They are not an airline, that is just in their name," aviation director Scott Gray said Tuesday. "People see the name and they think of 737s."

There are 11 similar commercial operations at the airport providing on-demand charter services like Grand Canyon, Gray said.

Additional passenger flights could come to Scottsdale, Gray said, as long as aircraft are under the airport’s weight limits: 45,000 pounds for single-wheeled planes and 75,000 pounds for dualwheeled aircraft.

The aircraft used by Grand Canyon Airlines seats 19 passengers and weighs 12,500 pounds.

Arrival of Grand Canyon Airlines last year prompted concern among residents critical of aircraft noise.

Coreen Young, president of the Coalition Concerned About Aircraft Noise, predicted then that the city would see incremental development at the airport and cautioned that at some point noise would be a problem.

Phil Vickers, an Airport Advisory Commission member critical of airport noise and operations, said he has "seen no indication that the city is going to take any action to allow larger passenger jets" to land in Scottsdale.

The city has, however, been trying for the past 15 years to attract a charter company to offer passenger service to such cities as Yuma and Los Angeles.

During the 1980s and early ‘90s, two charter companies offered flights to Laughlin, Nev.

Scottsdale has been a success, Grand Canyon Airline officials said, because of the large number of winter visitors and tourists staying at local resorts and hotels that want to see one of the world’s seven natural wonders.

"People want to see the Grand Canyon when they come to Arizona and we make it easy for them instead of having to drive six or seven hours," said John Dillon, general manager of Grand Canyon Airlines, Inc.

Most daily flights are full, Dillon said, and additional flights could be added if demand picks up.

"We are working very closely with resort properties and travel planners to grow our business," he said.

The airline currently offers one flight each day that departs for Grand Canyon Airport at 8:45 a.m. and returns to Scottsdale at 5:10 p.m. Flight and tour rates are $299 per person.

"We were very excited when they came on board with Scottsdale," said Laura McMurchie, Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau spokeswoman. "A lot of times convention groups are limited with their free time and this is an easy way for them to spend the day at the Grand Canyon without all that time on the road."

Residents critical of aircraft noise need not worry, Dillon said, because the twinengine plane they use is quieter than most charter aircraft at the Scottsdale Airport.

The plane is modified to be quieter in order to operate in Grand Canyon National Park under federal guidelines.

The aircraft, a modified deHavilland Twin Otter, seats 19 and features a propeller designed to decrease noise with the addition of a fourth blade that reduces exterior noise by 66 percent, said Verna Conley, airline spokeswoman.

The airline, which celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, has a colorful history. Initially called Scenic Airways, it flew the first tourists over the Grand Canyon on Oct. 3, 1927.

Its founder, J. Parker Van Sandt, began the airline with a fleet of Ford Tri-Motor airplanes. Van Sandt also founded Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

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