Grand Canyon Airport Expansion Proposed

If the Arizona Department of Transportation has its way, the tiny airport just south of Grand Canyon National Park (airport code: GCN) would be expanded to allow for passenger service on large commercial airlines.

Right now, the facility is primarily served by smaller charter and tour aircraft, and saw 318,000 passengers in 2010. If an expansion is OK’d, passenger figures could zoom to more than 1 million, with flights coming in from hubs like Denver and other cities.

Airport Expansion Could Take 5 Years

According to state transportation officials, expansion would cost $10 million and might take as long as five years. The expansion would be paid for with a variety of state, federal and private money, though as the Washington Post reports, the airport has yet to apply for any federal money yet.

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Where to Fly Now to Visit Grand Canyon

At the moment, most commercial flyers who wish to visit the Grand Canyon have two choices:

1. Fly into Arizona’s Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG). Airlines: US Airways.

  • Drive time from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon: up to 2 hours.

2. Fly into Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport (LAS). Airlines: numerous U.S. and international carriers including low-cost airlines such as AirTran, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and Virgin America.

  • Drive time from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon: 4-5 hours.

Generally speaking, larger airports are cheaper to fly into than smaller ones. It remains to be seen if a newly expanded Grand Canyon airport would offer significant savings for passengers, although it would clearly offer a significantly higher convenience factor.

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Published: November 2, 2011