Las Cruces has 150K Population BUT, No (Real) Airport
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.
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.