Airport Terminal Construction Starts While Traffic Soars Past Projections

Construction of Prescott Regional Airport’s $15 million passenger terminal, which kicked off with a Jan. 7 groundbreaking, is starting just in time as demand for its flights to Denver and Los Angeles soars past initial projections. 

About 200 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony, Airport Director Robin Sobotta said, representing the business, political, academic and other sectors that have all helped spur PRA’s recent growth. 

“It’s been such an amazing time just since I arrived just two years ago, to see the transformation of the airport and to have the opportunity to be a part of it,” she said. “It’s been really exciting.”

Speakers included Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli and representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration, and contractors Willmeng Construction and Fann Contracting. SkyWest Airlines Director of Corporate Communications Wes Horrocks also gave a presentation. 

At 18,000 square feet, the new terminal will be almost twice as large as the current one, which was built in 1948. 

Scheduled for completion in February 2021, it will boast a snack bar, along with offices for two rental car agencies and a technology table where flyers can plug in and work on their devices before boarding. The TSA will have advanced imaging technology available for passenger screening, quicker and less invasive than the magnetometer currently in use. 

Plans call for it to start out with two passenger gates, same a the current one, but a third can be added quickly in the likely event that it’s needed, Sobotta said. 

“We’ve grown beyond all the numbers that were anticipated already,” she said, with a total of 73,000 passengers since United Express, operated by Skywest Airlines, launched its service in August 2018. “Response to this service has been extraordinary.”

An economic impact study projects the new terminal will inject up to $160 million into the local economy annually, and educational campuses are expected to be among the top beneficiaries. 

“One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from the families of prospective students who want to visit us is, ‘Can we fly directly into Prescott?’,” said Dr. Anette Karlsson, chancellor of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott Campus. “Not only are we happy to tell them ‘yes,’ but this beautiful new terminal will make for a great first impression, not only for those prospective students, but for other visitors to our community as well.”

Photo: Design and construction representatives from Dibble Engineering, DWL Architects, LSW Engineers, Willmeng Construction, and Fann Contracting help break ground for the new terminal, along with Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli. (Photo courtesy of City of Prescott)