Booming operations at Williams Gateway and Chandler Municipal airports have placed the facilities at the top of a national list according to Federal Aviation Administration statistics.
Williams Gateway spokesman Brian Sexton said that with 240,483 takeoffs and landings last year, the airport holds the nation’s top spot for traffic among contract air towers.
Such towers are run by air traffic controllers who have FAA-certification but are employed by a private company hired by the FAA to manage flights at a given airport, said Donn Walker, FAA spokesman.
Williams Gateway and Chandler Municipal are two of 219 facilities in the country and six in Arizona to have such a designation.
And with 233,079 takeoffs and landings last year, Chandler Municipal holds second place in the category.
"The more flights we get in here is reflective of more business prospects coming into the city. It’s good for the city, too, because the more planes we get, the more fuel that’s being used," said Guy Lennon, Chandler Municipal’s assistant airport manager.
With air traffic taking a plunge after Sept. 11, 2001, and the subsequent downturn in the economy, the increase in traffic at both facilities has pleased officials.
"This is good news for (Williams Gateway) and really good news for the East Valley. The numbers are showing that the airport is getting busier and that the investments made here are really paying off," Sexton said.
The positions were reversed in 2003, with Chandler at 200,818 takeoffs and landings holding the top spot and Williams coming in second with 147,626 takeoffs and landings.
Although operations at Chandler Municipal haven’t increased as fast as Williams Gateway and are below the pre-Sept. 11 high of 250,000 takeoffs and landings, Lennon said business is on the upswing.
"Our attraction seems to be flight training," he said. "It’s not only business that’s coming into the city, but also reflective of the flight training that’s going on in the Valley as a whole."