Home News Local News Council approves search for air service consultants

Council approves search for air service consultants

0
City staff think it’s time to plan for additional commercial air flights into and out of Roswell. In this photo from Jan. 2, the terminal lobby is packed with passengers from a flight that had to make an unexpected stop at the Roswell International Air Center. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Roswell International Air Center staff wants to add a commercial flight to a new destination in coming years and they now have approval to hire a consulting service to help with that goal.

The Roswell City Council voted unanimously, 9-0, Thursday night to approve the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to hire an air services marketing and promotions consulting firm for a year, with the option of extending the contract for a second year if warranted.

Air Center Director Scott Stark said that the two American Airline flight routes already servicing Roswell are doing well and experiencing growth, with recent data indicating that passenger traffic at the airport has increased 39 percent since the addition of the flights to and from Phoenix about three years ago, with both Phoenix and Dallas flights benefiting. In 2017, 55,000 commercial airline passengers used the Roswell airport, according to information in the RFP.

“So the next question is, where do we grow now? What do we do next?” Stark asked during his comments to city councilors.

He explained that some initial data and surveys indicate Denver appears to be a destination of high interest, with people also identifying preferred cities as Las Vegas, Nevada; Orlando, Florida; and Houston, Texas. But, he said, much more information needs to be gathered and analyzed.

Stark also said that Roswell has an opportunity to capture a larger segment of the New Mexico air traveler market.

“Even with that (recent growth), we still have a very small portion of the market in this state,” Stark said. “Ninety-three percent of the air travelers leave this state and come into this state through Albuquerque. Our percentage is about 2 percent, so we believe we have a lot of room for growth.”

According to the RFP, the responsibilities of the consulting service would fall into two major categories, air service analysis and presentations, and on-call services.

The air service analysis would include market analysis, route analysis and preparing presentations for airline pitches and conferences, as well as attending some of the presentations. The on-call services, which would be negotiated as needed, could include such work as flight and airport data analysis, marketing support, federal grant development assistance, community relations and the development of incentive packages to offer airlines.

Stark told councilors that he expects a one-year contract, not counting on-call services, to run about $60,000 to $70,000. The money would come from the air center’s budget for fiscal year 2020.

The city expects to issue the RFP next week with proposals due April 23. A contract is scheduled to be awarded in June, with the goal of starting the contract and the consulting work July 1.

As Stark told councilors, U.S. air travel has been increasing in recent years, with the Federal Aviation Administration projecting an average annual growth rate of 2.3 percent for the next 20 years.

A U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics Report for February 2019 indicates that 76 million passengers traveled by air for the month, about 66 million domestic travelers and 10 million international passengers. The 76 million total is a 12.1 percent increase from February 2016 and a 4.1 percent boost from February 2018.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.