Las Cruces, a city (you can’t really call it a “town” anymore) of over 150,000 people, doesn’t have a regular, public passenger airline.  The GM of the Las Cruces airport and a spokesman for Sunport International in Albuquerque both say they would LOVE to have a regular Cruces to ABQ run. The “want” is there from both terminals but the money isn’t.

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Yes, Las Cruces has an airport but they haven’t had public passenger flights since 2005. That was the year Westward Airways quit serving Las Cruces with puddle-jumper service to Albuquerque and Phoenix.  Since 2005, Las Crucens wanting to fly to Albuquerque have had to fly out of El Paso International. Or, chartering a private flight.

Andy Hume, who runs Las Cruces’ airport is pushing a 3.8 million dollar grant proposal that would bring public, affordable, and REGULARLY SCHEDULED flights to Cruces for the first time in 17 years. Hume says, “It’s a competitive grant and I’m sure…other cities in New Mexico…are going to be trying to do the same thing."

I get it Las Cruces friends. About half the time when I’m flying into E.P. I find myself seated next to a Las Cruces and I always feel bad: after a two-hour flight, they’ve got to drive ANOTHER hour to get back home. Also, I know driving from Cruces to the El Paso airport is only an hour, maybe less. But driving on 1-10 KNOWING you’re going to be flying right back OVER Las Cruces has got to be a bummer.

If the Las Cruces airport does end up getting a connector to Albuquerque Sunport, it will be a smaller plane.  They can accommodate the bit Airbuses and Boeings (for chartered flights, travel for college athletics, etc.).  In the early 2000s, the Las Cruces/Albuquerque route was handled almost exclusively by smaller planes like a Beechcraft C99 or, going back a couple of decades more, by Cessnas and Pipers. Westward Airways, the last regular connector, used Pilatus PC-12s which typically had seats for 6 to 9 passengers.

My advice, if you want to get to Albuquerque from Las Cruces? Take 1-25, stop in Hatch for a green chili cheeseburger from Sparky’s, check to see if there’s any water in the lake when you pass Elephant Butte and pedal-to-the-metal the rest of the way.

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