I have lived in Amarillo for more than 23 years and I do not remember the kind of hype that preceded a takeoff this morning from Rick Husband-Amarillo International Airport.
An American Airlines jet took off today for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. It got lots of media coverage. It was the first non-stop flight between AMA and PHX.
I get that it’s a big deal. I also understand how Amarillo’s airport has become a vital economic development recruitment tool. It’s a small terminal compared to the other locations it serves with non-stop flights: Sky Harbor, Dallas Love Field, George Bush (Houston) Intercontinental and Dallas-Fort Worth and Denver International.
What’s important to understand, though, is that most of those terminals (Love Field being the exception) connect AMA with virtually any destination in the world.
The Amarillo-Phoenix connection aims to boost leisure as well as business travel to the desert Southwest. As the Amarillo Globe-News story noted, airport officials couldn’t state whether the maiden flight to Sky Harbor was full.
According to the Globe-News: Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said, “I’m proud when people land here at our airport. It reflects us as a community; it reflects our creativity; it reflects our history and our culture. So I’m very, very proud of our airport.”
The city has invested a lot in its air terminal. I, too, happen to be proud of the air service we get in Amarillo. It has just improved a good bit with a heavily promoted service to a new community.
I am going to remain confident that this new air service will be worth the hype that preceded its first flight out west.