SANTA FE, N.M. — How do you like to go up in a swing, Up in the sky so blue?
Oh, I do think it’s the pleasantest thing, ever a child could do.
Up in the air and over the wall, till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all over the countryside
Till I look down on the garden green, down on the roofs so brown,
Up in the air I go flying again – Up in the air and down!
— Robert Louis Stevenson
And that was flying, in 1885!
In 1903, the Wright Brothers’ Flying Machine flew in the air 120 feet for 12 seconds.
Today, 113 years later, one can fly halfway around the world to China in about 15 hours. Flying is our everyday lifestyle.
So why is it so hard to fly to Santa Fe?
Refrain: “We’re happy to pick you up in Albuquerque! It’s only an hour to the airport. That’s nothing!” (Yeah, if you’re used to the Heathrow ride maybe, or you have a couple of hours to take a drive … .)
But what about our darling little airport here, one minute from the south side, 10 minutes from the north side on 599, 15 minutes from downtown, with the convenience, and small town charm and ambiance of old Santa Fe.
Park the car and walk right in. No hassling with satellite parking lots and shuttles.
Show your ID and boarding pass at the check-in desk and the one security point, compared to five times in Albuquerque.
After security, you’re already at the gate … no trekking through miles of airport corridors!
A dynamic group of interested local individuals and businesses called The Northern New Mexico Air Alliance has realized that the Santa Fe Airport is a valuable asset to the city, and are raising funds to improve and expand the facility and the flight schedules.
About 150 interested folks came out on a cold January night to hear about plans for the “new and improved” Santa Fe Airport and to support the group’s efforts. Pledge cards were passed out that evening for individuals and businesses to enhance the $925,000 in funding already committed from federal, state and local grants.
It all starts with the belief that our airport should be providing locals with flights to places they want to go and bringing Santa Fe visitors in here rather than Albuquerque.
For me, the pleasantest thing to do would be to fly nonstop to see my son and daughter in Los Angeles, or hop directly to Tucson to see my sister. And go up in the air to New York in less than a full day … wouldn’t it be nice to just leave from Santa Fe and not hassle with Albuquerque? And, conversely, not to have to drive to Albuquerque to pick up visitors. “Tell them to take the shuttle.” Sounds good. Not happening: “Refrain.”
Our little airport produces $78,224,000 in economic impact per year for Santa Fe. Santa Fe’s visitors using the airport in Albuquerque have a $243,000,000-a-year direct economic impact on Albuquerque!
Hmmm … could Santa Fe use those funds for anything if generated by our own airport?
Some critics say Santa Fe could not support an expanded flight schedule, but statistics show that teeny Jackson Hole, with a population of 20,000, supports 12 non-stop destinations. Why wouldn’t we? We have a new, savvy, experienced airport manager and a population that seems eager for the convenience.
There is a five-year plan being designed for allocation of the funds being raised. They will be used for improving the runways, a share of the much-needed connection to N.M. 599 and expanding the terminal. (I hope they’ll leave our current small, rustic, historic terminal ALONE and just add on somewhere!)
But would someone please hurry up and buy the junkyard decorating the front entrance? What a location!
Ashley Margetson has a BA in English from UCLA, is a senior real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty and has a finger on the pulse of philanthropic activities in Santa Fe. To tell us about an upcoming event, email email@example.com.
Kent Myers is an air planning consultant.
Simon Brackley, president of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce with Robert Kiely.
Cam Humphres, left, Santa Fe Airport Manager, with Dave Hayduk.
Alan Connor files to and from Jackson Hole.
Suzy Eskridge with John House.
C.T. and Susie Herman.