Pueblo Memorial Airport's new master plan says it wants to double its flight capacity in the next 20 years, but that’s not for commercial passenger service.
About 12,000 commercial passengers fly in and out of Pueblo each year. That may seem like a lot, but airport planning consultant Ryan Hayes said many Pueblo passengers drive to Denver or Colorado Springs to fly instead.
“It's about 90 percent,” Hayes said. “It's like that for every airport within a 250-mile radius of Denver because the airfares are so low.”
Pueblo sees more than 200,000 take-offs and landings each year — but the majority of them are military planes, flight schools, air taxis and others.
Still, the master plan calls for substantial improvements to the airport’s infrastructure for all flights — more than $90 million worth — including expanding the existing terminal to improve the security checkpoint and adding more lounge space. It also calls for new restrooms, which would address a major complaint — poorly located facilities — according to Pueblo Memorial Airport manager and Director of Aviation Greg Pedroza. Right now, there are no restrooms past security checkpoints at the airport.
“People get through TSA (and) there's an issue with the plane, weather delay or whatnot, and they're stuck without a restroom (and) without a vending machine on that side of security,” he said.
Plans are also in the works to continue to provide “essential air service” — a federal designation meant to ensure small communities are served by airlines. Southern Airways has submitted a proposal to provide that essential air service to Pueblo, replacing the current airline, SkyWest. If approved by the federal government, it would begin later this year.
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