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"Utah's regional aviation on the rise"
- From: "Stephen Irwin" <stepheni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2005 23:09:02 -0500
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Regional aviation on the rise
By Heidi Toth
The Provo (UT) Daily Herald
The added security after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had an
unexpected positive effect on the aviation industry and Utah's regional
The extra inconvenience caused more and more businesses to turn to privately
owned planes to move their employees around the country, and those planes
are seeking smaller airports at which to land.
Combine that growth with the increased flight schools and helicopter landing
schools in the area and the growth along the Wasatch Front in general, and
airports like Provo Municipal, Ogden-Hinckley and Nephi Municipal are seeing
an upswing in operations.
Pat Morley, director of the Utah Department of Transportation's Division of
Aeronautics, said the business jet sector is growing substantially, which
fueled much of the growth in smaller airports.
"To the business world, time is money, and when they want to get from point
A to point B, they like to do it in the most direct fashion possible," he
said. "They can go where they want to go, when they want to go."
Ed Rich, general manager of the Ogden-Hinckley Airport, said he has seen a
significant increase in the number of business jets coming through his
airport, particularly since 9/11, and the added hassle of commercial
Its use averages about 100,000 operations a year, he said, adding traffic
had not increased significantly in the past few years, although others
"What's changed is the size of the airplanes," he said. "There's more people
engaged in it, but not flying as much."
Ogden's proximity to Salt Lake City makes it a reliever airport for Salt
Lake International Airport any time weather or other adverse conditions make
landing in Salt Lake difficult, and it also sees some traffic from Hill Air
Nephi Municipal also has seen growth in business jet usage, said Randy
McKnight, Nephi's city administrator, although he does not believe it is
growing any faster than the aviation industry in general.
Both managers pointed to the growth in corporate jets as an economic boon to
their cities; Rich believes the airport is responsible for adding several
million dollars to the Ogden economy, while McKnight said Nephi sees the
airport as an important factor in the city's economic development.
Provo Municipal Airport Manager Steve Gleason said Provo's corporate jet
traffic is only about 10 percent of its total, although that could change
with the addition of the control tower, which could be in use as early as
"There are certain jet services and jet companies that won't fly into an
uncontrolled airport," he said.
The majority of its traffic comes from local flight schools, including UVSC,
and helicopter schools in the area, although that usage also could change
when the control tower comes into operation. Flight schools that want to do
touch-and-goes -- landing the plane and pulling it back up again without
stopping -- could move to an airport without a control tower, Gleason said.
He does not anticipate the number of operations to change, but the mix will
probably be different.
Nephi also is a good airport for flight and helicopter training schools, and
it gets a few touch-and-goes, as well. It recently got a grant from the
Federal Aviation Administration to build a new runway, which should help the
airport become more competitive, McKnight said.
"The purpose of the projects we're doing with FAA funding is to improve
existing safety features of the airport and also to prepare for future
growth," he said.
Ogden gets a fair amount of traffic from flight and helicopter training
schools, Rich said, and it has a healthy recreational use, with two
skydiving companies operating out of it. The airport's usage is split about
evenly between itinerant flights and local flights such as the recreational
flights and flight schools.
The vision for Ogden-Hinckley, he said, is to remain viable, continue
serving current customers and look into bringing some commercial flights in
"We envision having scheduled air service here in the next couple of years,"
he said. "We're not getting busier, we're getting better."
Gleason said he anticipates growth in corporate and charter jet traffic in
the next few years, which could be hastened by the control tower but most
likely would have come anyway. His vision for the Provo airport is for it to
become a regional center for aviation traffic.
"I think we'll just be a part, a bigger part, of the state's transportation
infrastructure," he said.
As for commercial flights, he believes the question is when, not if.
"It's probably going to happen eventually, but never on a scale like Salt
Lake," Gleason said.
That decision is up to the various airlines, but Morley said it was not
"By the very nature, the Utah Valley is continuing to grow, and as the
population grows, the demand for air service will grow," he said. "It's
really going to come down to the airlines and whether they can make money or
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