NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – It may soon be easier for people to jet across the state with possible new flights connecting central and southern New Mexico. Many New Mexicans have gotten used to the few hours drive, but a new push wants to make the roundtrip commute from Las Cruces to Albuquerque even shorter.
“A six-hour drive is a huge investment of your day so as opposed to say a 50-minute plane ride,” said Andy Hume, who runs the Las Cruces airport.
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The airport currently does not have any public passenger flights. “We have not had service since about 2005 so this would be the first service in almost a couple of decades,” Hume said. Hume is behind a $3.8 million grant proposal that would launch intra-state flights between the Las Cruces airport and the Albuquerque International Sunport. “Our metro area is 150,000 people, we’re not a tiny little burb anymore,” Hume said.
He says the flights would be particularly popular amount business travelers who could catch an early morning flight. “Have your meetings, go to lunch, have a productive day, and then you can still be home at 5,” Hume said.
He expects the flights to be popular among Las Cruces natives living out of state and parents with kids at New Mexico State University. The New Mexico Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division would have to approve millions in funding to get the flights up and running. “It’s a competitive grant and I’m sure there’s going to be other cities in New Mexico who are going to be trying to do the same thing that we are. So it’s a matter of putting your best foot forward,” Hume said.
The Sunport currently has small connecting flights to Silver City and Carlsbad. A spokesperson said they are interested in adding a Las Cruces flight saying it would help business opportunities and provide additional connections to New Mexico travelers.
It’s not clear when the DOT may decide on who gets the millions in grant funding. Hume says there are airlines interested in providing that service and he hopes flights will be up and running in about six months.