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FARMINGTON — The Four Corners Regional Airport has been named the most improved airport by the New Mexico Airport Managers Association.

“We are very proud of the work our city is doing to ensure economic viability of our airport and increase our opportunity of bringing scheduled jet airline service back to Four Corners Regional Airport,” City Manager Rob Mayes said in a statement to The Daily Times.

The airport has not had regular commercial airline service since Great Lakes Aviation announced it was leaving Farmington in 2017. Since then, the city has worked to change the airport’s classification. The classification determines what size airplane can land at the airport. Farmington hopes the new classification will allow larger jets to land at the airport. It is already in talks with an airline that may begin flying in and out of the city.

More: Farmington plans to return commercial air service to Four Corners Regional Airport

The Most Improved Airport recognition comes after the airport has applied for and received millions of dollars of federal grant funding for major construction projects. For example, last year the airport used at $3.2 million grant to reconstruct the taxiways that were crumbling and buckled and had problems with the subsurface clay.

More: Taxiway demolition, reconstruction completed at airport

Airport Manager Mike Lewis said this funding played a critical role in the airport receiving the recognition. He added that the mayor, city manager and City Council’s support made it possible for the airport to receive the funding.

“The Mayor, City Manager and City Council realize very keenly that the airport is one of the key drivers of a great economy and regard it as an important asset the City's quest to diversify the economy of our region,” Lewis said.

Lewis said the most recent annual Federal Aviation Administration inspection had no findings.

“Everything in their opinion was as it should be,” he said.

He said the recognition shows that officials on both the state and federal level believe the airport is a good facility.

Another thing that contributed to the recognition was the air rescue and firefighting operations at the airport. Lewis said the unit located at the airport has been held up by the state as a model for air rescue and firefighting operations.

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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