The City of Sedona is considering purchasing Sedona Airport from Yavapai County and has begun seeking consulting services to fully understand what it takes to purchase and operate an airport.
“The city is embarking on a due diligence process to better understand the potential acquisition of the airport,” said City of Sedona manager Karen Osburn.
The Sedona Airport has long contributed to the tourism and growth of the city of Sedona. However, even though the airport is less than a quarter mile from the nearest Sedona residence, the airport has always been owned by Yavapai County and is a major factor in the economic and quality of life of the city of Sedona. has an impact on within city limits.
“There is little regulatory oversight by the city right now, even though the airport is located in the middle of our community,” Osburn said. “Yavapai County and the City of Sedona agree that future airport decisions should be made by local jurisdictions whose residents are more directly affected by those decisions.”
In addition to the financial impact, the city is also considering how the airport will structure its ownership if it goes ahead with the purchase.
Currently, the Sedona Oak Creek Airport Authority nonprofit operates the airport primarily independently, subject to guidelines and regulations set by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Arizona Department of Transportation, and Yavapai County.
Yavapai County currently owns and operates two airports in addition to its lease with SOCAA for Sedona Airport.
“The city has no experience in this area and is trying to understand everything airports have to offer. It’s a tough order,” said airport general manager Ed Rose.
Now, the City of Sedona is meeting that challenge by hiring consultants to better understand what airport ownership entails. Many of the benefits are largely undetermined.
“The city is conducting due diligence to determine whether the acquisition of the airport will benefit the community,” Osburn said. “Our residents, businesses and other stakeholders You will be asked to consider that prospect before a decision is made.”
Yavapai County and the city of Sedona are both doing considerable due diligence, according to Rose.
Any agreement must ultimately be approved by the FAA as well as the county and city. “It’s also part of the due diligence [process] To determine the airport’s financial status and the future financial impact of ownership on the city,” Osburn said.
The current development of Sedona Airport covers approximately 230 acres atop Table Top Mountain, also known as Airport Mesa, in West Sedona. The site includes Sky Ranch Lodge, Mesa Grill, one terminal, a decommissioned Masonic Lodge, a fuel farm, several hangars, a helipad, and a 5,130-foot runway.
Sedona Airport was founded in 1952 when Ray Steele and Joe Moser started a project with the support of local residents and funding from Yavapai County.
On September 22, 1955, Moser landed its first plane at what was then called “Oak Creek Airport”. On October 31, 1956, the USDA transferred Mesa to Yavapai County with the intention of continuing to use Mesa as an airport.
In 1957, the Civil Aviation Administration, now called the FAA, granted $13,420 to pave the airport a 3,700-foot dirt runway. Sedona Airport has since evolved into a regional charter and commuter hub.
Yavapai County relinquished responsibility for operating the airport in 1971, opting instead to enter into a 25-year lease with the newly formed SOCAA.
By the 1980s, Sedona Airport began to develop into the facility we recognize today. The first helicopter and plane tour services have arrived at the airport, the Sky Ranch Lodge has opened its doors and the Stretch Maddens Airport Restaurant has opened. In addition, Sedona Airport has begun receiving state-of-the-art hangars, state-of-the-art fuel services, and paved taxiways. Ultimately, commuter service to other airports, including Phoenix, was discontinued.
Today, SOCAA operates Sedona Airport under a lease with Yavapai County. Today, it sees 35,000 aircraft landings and takeoffs annually, serves as a U.S. Forest Service fire station three months a year, and can accommodate most modern light jets. In 2020, ADOT’s Economic Impact Study showed that Sedona Airport had his $32 million positive economic impact on the surrounding area.
SOCAA is a 501(3)(c) tax exempt entity and publishes airport financial information on its website. According to Rose, Sedona Airport receives no funding from Yavapai County for its operation and maintenance. The airport is self-sufficient. The airport generates the revenue it needs to finance its operations through its services and by hosting revenue-generating businesses such as Sky Ranch Lodge and Mesa Grill. Additionally, the airport is seeking grants and funding from the FAA and ADOT for development and maintenance to help further grow its revenue.
In 2020, SOCAA received a $2,422,304 ADOT grant for taxiway improvements. Additionally, all revenue received by the airport must be used to support the airport. A federal law passed in 1982 prohibited the diversion of airport revenues to non-airport uses.