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FARMINGTON — No commercial airline has landed a plane at the Four Corners Regional Airport since 2017, but Farmington officials are hopeful these flights will return in the next couple of years.

The last commercial airline operating at the airport left in 2017 citing challenges created by a pilot shortage.

“I believe that the day will come that we will have jet service at the airport,” City Manager Rob Mayes said during a City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Farmington plans to improve airport

Airport Manager Mike Lewis presented a five-year capital improvement plan to the City Council on Tuesday that would allow commercial air service to return to the airport. This includes improvements to runways, installation of an engineered material arresting system and taxiway relocation.

MORE: Farmington looks at airport upgrades to attract commercial airlines

The plan calls for nearly $23.2 million of investments into the airport over the next five years. The majority of those funds would come from the federal government, however the state and city will each pay $724,688 over those five years, or about $145,000 annually.

While the plan calls for improvements over five years, the city hopes to have commercial air service return earlier.

Lewis said the airport may be able to get a temporary exception in taxiway requirements by shutting down the taxiway when the runway is in use. Currently, the center of the taxiway is too close to the center of the runway. That could bring planes too close together if they were using the taxiway and the runway at the same time.

MORE: Taxiway demolition, reconstruction completed at airport

The city plans to begin a project this summer that could allow it to receive the C-II classification, which allows larger planes to fly in and out of the airport.

Once the airport meets C-II standards, city officials plan to discuss an air service plan with SkyWest Airlines to bring commercial planes back to the airport. These talks could begin as early as next year. SkyWest has already expressed interest in flying in and out of Farmington.

Those who want to learn more about the plans can watch Lewis’ presentation online at fmtn.org.

Airport benefits local economy

Lewis said the Four Corners Regional Airport contributes nearly $23 million a year to the local economy when it has commercial air service and also benefits the community even without commercial air service.

Farmington Economic Development Director Warren Unsicker said the commercial air service will help Farmington as it works to accomplish goals like increasing tourism, attracting retirees and building an aerospace industry.

He said it will also help attract people who can live in Farmington or surrounding areas and work remotely because they will be able to fly to meetings in other parts of the country.

Unsicker said commercial air service will also help existing businesses like the oil and gas industries by allowing them to fly on commercial airlines rather than using private company planes.

Approximately 110 people are currently employed at 14 separate organizations connected to the airport, including the Air Care air ambulance, No Worries Sports Bar & Grill, private airline companies and car rental companies.

Lewis said there are 131 different aircraft based at the Four Corners Regional Airport, including 109 single-engine planes, 14 multi-engine planes, five helicopters and three ultralights.

“The airport is still a very vital part of our community,” he said.

Unsicker also said the airport plays an important role in the community, from allowing medical life flights to providing a training location for military operations.

"You've got a lot of commerce around the airport without commercial airplanes coming in and out of the airport," he said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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A France-based helicopter manufacturer is visiting Farmington to perform tests it needs to complete on the H160 helicopter for both U.S. and European certification. Wochit

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