At a special work session at 9 a.m. today, Farmington City Council will consider whether to subsidize the flights, which would originate from Farmington's Four Corners Regional Airport.
"We received an unsolicited letter from New Mexico Airlines," said Bob Campbell, assistant city manager, in a phone interview Thursday morning.
At least one city councilman and Mayor Tommy Roberts have a number of questions regarding the subsidy, demand for the flights and whether the route will benefit the community.
"With a subsidy that large, I kind of wonder what the real demand is for a flight to Albuquerque," said Councilman Dan Darnell in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.
Darnell said he is also concerned that the subsidy will put create unfair competition for Great Lakes Airlines, which offers four daily flights to Denver.
"Great Lakes is unsubsidized," he said. "I'm interested by the prospect, but at what cost? If I were Great Lakes, how would I feel about that? We've always wanted a flight to Albuquerque, but I'm not sure we're ready."
Ultimately, he said he would reserve final judgment until after today's work session.
Farmington's subsidy would be $389,813 per year, according to a March 24 letter from David Jones, director of operations at Pacific Wings, New Mexico Airlines' parent company based in Mesa, Ariz.
City staff, however, does not recommend entering into the subsidy agreement because of the current financial crisis, Campbell said.
Although the minimum financial impact to the city is $389,813, the real cost could be as high as $1.1 million, according to information provided in the work session agenda.
"Anything below 70 percent occupancy would have to be subsidized," said Mayor Tommy Roberts in a Thursday afternoon phone interview. "I'm assuming that the $1 million figure is a worst case scenario if no one flies."
Greg Yee can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4606. Follow him on Twitter @GYeeDT.