Is NoCo Closer to Commercial Flights?
According to Webster's, allegiance is defined as: loyalty or devotion to some person, group, cause, or the like.
Ahhh... "the like".
"The like" how we enjoyed commercial airline service out of an airport that was much easier to access and much closer than the one in Denver. "The like" how we filled up their planes four times a week getting to and from Las Vegas. "The like" how Fort Collins-Loveland was recognized by the airline as a lucrative and successful station in the Allegiant Airline chain only to have the plug pulled a couple of weeks later. The loyalty and devotion was there from the paying public when it came to commercial airline service from the Northern Colorado Regional Airport (FNL), but it wasn't returned.
According to the Coloradoan, FNL and the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland are continuing upgrades and improvements to the airport in an effort to lure another airline to the area. Here are some key areas of improvement:
1. The lack of a physical tower. Allegiant used this as an excuse to pull out. As a result, the airport is installing the world's first "virtual tower" which will use video and radar to provide "a comprehensive view" of the airport and resolve what Allegiant and maybe other airlines consider a hurdle. The project could be completed by the end of September.
2. Pilot shortage. Yes, this could help us get commercial airline service. There is, according to Boeing, the need for pilots and technicians could exceed over 600-thousand opportunities in the next 20 years. Why is that important to the airport?
3. Aims Community College. They have a flight training operation that will be moving to FNL. According to the Coloradoan, "Aimes hopes to double the number of students and veterans it can train to help met a growing demand for pilots over the next two decades". This kind of activity could attract or increase interest in the airport for commercial service.
4. New Structures on site. I liked the so called "terminal". It was folksy and quaint. Not at all modern with its so-called "amenities", and it lacked in creature comforts, but I loved the bar being so close to front of the building. And the smoking section was outside in the front where you could puff a few while watching the aircraft approach the terminal. But, it needs to go. They are building new hangars and they have a "master plan" that involves a $300-thousand grant from the FAA and another $17-thousand from the state that they have applied for that would help with this transformation.
To say that Northern Colorado is growing is like saying the sun is hot and I-25 is a nightmare. We are growing. With that comes the needs large and expanding communities expect. While the idea of having major carriers using FNL as a hub or spoke is unreasonable considering the proximity of DIA, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that, from a strategic standpoint, FNL could be the perfect station for a small to mid-major airline to plant and grow roots. The population is growing here and expanding north. Wellington could be twice its size this time next year. And, by the way, there's little to no commercial service out of Cheyenne. We are ripe for the picking.