Sean Barry didn’t think twice when Williams Gateway Airport called him Wednesday to offer a flight to Las Vegas. In fact, he decided to get the most out of the trip by bringing along his fiancee, Jessica, so the two could finally tie the knot.
All they had to do was hop in the car and drive to Mesa from their Chandler home. No lines. No parking fees. In just an hour and five minutes, they’d be in Vegas and on their way to being newlyweds.
“All I wish for is the water show with a Frank Sinatra song,” Barry said.
From now on, the Las Vegas metro area will be a shorter distance away for East Valley residents looking for a night on the town. On Thursday, about 20 people boarded Vision Airlines’ inaugural flight to North Las Vegas from Williams Gateway Airport.
The 5:45 p.m. takeoff marked the first commercial flight open to the general public to take off from the Williams Gateway runway. Currently, there is some commercial service to Laughlin, Nev., but flights are limited to Harrah’s clients.
A regularly scheduled commercial flight is needed in the East Valley because Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport can be frustrating, said John Barry, the marketing director of the airport.
“It is far for people in the East Valley,” John Barry said. “It’s an hour drive . . . It’s inconvenient for people who want convenience.”
The Vision Airlines plane has only 30 seats, so there will be no lines, and the same level of security is not necessary. Parking at the airport is free. The cost of the trip will be $69 one way, and flights will be offered once a day on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Mondays at 5:45 p.m.
Queen Creek resident Richard Holien, who took the first flight, said the airport is key to the Valley’s future.
“The freeway is going to be coming out this way, and that will spawn added development,” he said. “The growth is just crazy out here.”
Vegas service is a big step for the airport, which has been working since 1994 to build the infrastructure needed to become a commercial airport, John Barry said.
The airport is also negotiating with Fiesta Airlines to schedule flights from Mesa to Rockford, Ill., and Smooth Flight Holdings, which may offer flights to Southern California.