Transportation  June 3, 2022

Editorial: Officials shouldn’t give up on resumption of passenger service to NoCo Regional Airport

Northern Colorado Regional Airport has had its share of ups and downs.

The latest turbulence comes courtesy of Avelo Airlines, which informed airport officials on May 27 that it would suspend service between Northern Colorado and Burbank, California, and Las Vegas. The twice-weekly Las Vegas service will be suspended as of June 16, with the twice-weekly Burbank service suspended as of June 24.

Airline officials cited high fuel and supply costs as reasons for the cuts, with Airport Director Jason Licon telling the Coloradoan that Avelo had planned on fuel costs of $2.50 per gallon, not the current $7 per gallon.

“While we recognize that airlines must make difficult choices, this news is disappointing to us, and we know that it is also disappointing to those who choose to fly FNL. Flights from FNL to Burbank and Las Vegas continue to be very popular, proving that local passengers desire commercial air service from our location,” Licon said in a written statement.

The airport — owned by the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland — has had trouble maintaining scheduled passenger service, going for years without. Allegiant Airlines in October 2019 abandoned plans to resume service at the airport — halted in 2012 — amid concerns about the lack of a physical control tower.

Airport officials have been working for years to develop a remote air-traffic-control tower, which is now in a testing and certification process with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Additionally, NoCo Regional is working to develop a new terminal building, a $26 million project.

Those two projects should go a long way to supporting scheduled passenger service at the airport, a convenient option for the booming populations of Larimer and Weld counties, and an alternative to Denver International Airport.

Airport officials appear determined to make it happen. Don Overcash, chair of the Airport Commission, emphasized the group’s commitment to resumption of passenger service.

“The airport remains focused on the investment for facility enhancements such as the new terminal and the remote tower, that will be used to support current commercial airline service as well as recruiting new carriers,” he said. “These investments are necessary to ensure that FNL continues to serve as an economic engine benefitting the region.”

Various economic forces make this a challenging time for business, including airlines. But continued focus on creating the right infrastructure should mean that scheduled service takes flight once again at NoCo Regional.

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