Column: Why Not Fly, Los Alamos?

Councilor Steven Girrens
 
Why Not Fly, Los Alamos?
By STEVEN GIRRENS
Los Alamos County Councilor

By the time you read this column, I hope you will have seen advertising and banners circulating in our community promoting commercial airline service between our airport (LAM) and Albuquerque’s Sunport (ABQ.) Our new “Why Not Fly” ad campaign is urging residents to give New Mexico Airlines a chance to get you quickly, conveniently and safely between our community and Albuquerque, whether you fly for business or pleasure.

The service was launched last April with the assistance of federal and state grants, and was extended through September of this year with supplemental funds approved by Council. During those discussions at the Council meeting last November, I mentioned the importance of marketing the service to our community, since some of the feedback I’ve received is that residents and commuters still don’t know about the daily flights.

We offer three round trip flights Monday through Friday and two flights on the weekend for a low-cost fare of $49 each way. At today’s gasoline prices, you can’t drive from here to Albuquerque and back again for much less than that! Plus, take into consideration that parking is free at LAM, something that I know personally from traveling for both work and family vacations can really add up as a hidden cost — even if you park in one of the inexpensive outside facilities in Albuquerque and take the shuttle to Sunport.

I had the chance to take one of the NM Airlines’ flights from LAM to ABQ last summer and found it to be convenient and comfortable. Every seat is a window seat that you have to yourself. Touching down at Sunport in just about 20 minutes after take-off from Los Alamos was great, and the scenic views of Overlook Canyon at White Rock and the mesa tops of townsite certainly topped a drive in my car through rush hour traffic through Santa Fe and Albuquerque for nearly two hours.

However, even though NM Airlines is offering a 9-passenger Cessna Caravan with flights structured around making connections with the maximum number of east or west-bound flights leaving Sunport, we are seeing only an average of 4 or 5 passengers per flight. We need to increase those numbers to at least 6 or 7 passengers on every Caravan, just to break even. An added plus is that the airline offers cargo service for minimal fees – something to consider the next time you need to get a package from here to there with same day service.

If you haven’t flown New Mexico Airlines, I urge you to give it a try. Having commercial airline service has long been recognized as an important transportation and economic development marketing tool for Los Alamos. Most of us remember the days of Mesa and Ross airlines at the airport and know that air service is not new – but it hasn’t been sustainable through the years. Now is our chance to change that and make this the year where the concept can really “fly” once and for all. With Valentine’s Day/President’s Day school break coming up, another LAPS and college spring break coming up next month and the number of business travelers I know that we also have here…we should be seeing more travelers on the flights, not less. Why not try … Why Not Fly? Join me in supporting commercial airline service for our community. Visit www.FlyLosAlamos.com to book your next flight!

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