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Ribbon cutting welcomes commercial air service back to Las Cruces

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Photo: With an Advanced Airlines Beechcraft Super King Air 350 in the background, the ribbon is cut Jan. 10 welcoming Advanced Air as the new carrier providing intra-state air service between Las Cruces and Albuquerque. Shown cutting the ribbon are Las Cruces International Airport Administrator Andy Hume , right, and Advanced Air President Levi Stockton. To Hume’s left are City Councilors Tessa Abeyta, Johana Bencomo and Becky Corran and Mayor Ken Miyagishima. Assistant City Manager Ikani Taumoepeau is at far left in the back row. City Manager Ifo Pili is third from left in the back row. Not shown are Mayor Pro Tempore Kasandra Gandara and state Sen. Bill Soules.

“This is a really great and exciting time,” Mayor Ken Miyagishima said Tuesday morning, Jan. 10, as the City of Las Cruces welcomed Advanced Airlines President Levi Stockton and cut the ribbon to celebrate the return of commercial air service to Las Cruces International Airport.

“It’s such a huge moment,” said City Councilor Johana Bencomo, whose district includes the airport.

“It’s really exciting to be here,” Stockton said.

“Welcome to our family,” Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce (GLCCC) President and CEO Debbi Moore said to Stockton.

The daily flights between Las Cruces and Albuquerque “are going to bring economic prosperity to our city,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Kasandra Gandara. “This takes us to a different level,” she said, for transportation, jobs, education and attracting more businesses and industry to Las Cruces.

Also attending the ribbon cutting were Las Cruces City Councilors Becky Graham and Tessa Abeyta, City Manager Ifo Pili and Assistant City Manager Ikani Taumoepeau, state Sen. Bill Soules (a licensed pilot), D-Doña Ana, representatives of the offices of U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan and U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez, both D-N.M., and New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) Aviation Director Pedro Rael and Planner Marilu Melendez, along with GLCCC Ambassadors.

Advanced Air began commercial air service operations in Las Cruces Jan. 16, the city said. The last time commercial air service was available in Las Cruces was 2005.

Advanced Air provides air service between Silver City and Albuquerque, between Silver City and Phoenix and between Gallup and Phoenix, the city said.

Advanced Air primarily utilizes the Beechcraft Super King Air 350 for its fleet, the news release said. The twin-engine aircraft has a capacity of nine passengers.

The two-year contract for Las Cruces air service has a total budget of $3,850,000, including $1.75 million each year from NMDOT’s rural air service enhancement grant.

For more information, call Las Cruces International Airport, at 575-541-2471.