ST. GEORGE – St. George officials, along with Governor Gary Herbert and Sen. Orrin Hatch, kicked off the grand opening ceremonies at the St. George Municipal Airport today with a flyover by F16 fighter jets and a visit from Intermountain Healthcare’s new Life Flight helicopter.
Hatch called the event an exciting chapter in the state’s aviation history.
“Today begins an exciting new chapter in our state’s aviation history,” Hatch said following today’s grand opening. “The impact of this airport will be more than a mere drop in the pond; it will create a ripple effect that will bring more scores of more visitors and hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenues to Utah’s Dixie. It is an important investment in the area’s future, and it will pay economic dividends for decades to come.
“For years, some naysayers said a new airport would never get off the ground,” Hatch added. “A few did everything they could to see that it wouldn’t. The opening of this facility today is a testament to the vision and persistence of the city, state, and federal officials who worked together to make it happen, and I am pleased to have had the privilege of helping bring this project to fruition. This bigger, better airport is a reflection of how far St. George has come, and it will help this community reach its full potential.”
The airport has been the pet project of Mayor Dan McArthur who has pushed the project through despite many set backs over the years. The new airport is nearly five times the size of the old airport. The cost is estimated to be at $159 million, with $123 million coming from FAA grants.
Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager, told St. George News today that the entire project came in at $1 million less than expected – $1 million the city did not have to come up with.
Mortensen previously said the new airport will allow the city to bring in larger aircraft, such as 737s, and bring more services to the area. SkyWest plans increase their services in St. George by 16 percent tomorrow and another 30 percent March 1 when they begin offering daily flights to Los Angeles.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2011, all rights reserved.