Dec 6, 2023 - News

Phoenix aviation department raises concerns as Peoria considers a new airport

Illustration of a crane hook hoisting a pilot's wings pin.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Peoria is exploring the possibility of building a new airport in the largely undeveloped northern part of the city, and Phoenix is already raising concerns.

State of play: The budget the City Council approved in May included $500,000 to hire Coffman Associates, an airport consulting firm, to conduct a feasibility study.

Why it matters: It wouldn't serve commercial or cargo flights and would instead be a general aviation reliever facility that would handle light- and midsize business jets and other general aviation aircraft, according to a fact sheet from the city.

The intrigue: The Phoenix Aviation Department worries a new Peoria airport could negatively affect operations at Phoenix Deer Valley Airport, which it runs, and Luke Air Force Base.

  • Phoenix aviation director Chad Makovsky told Peoria assistant city manager Rick Buss in a Nov. 30 letter he wanted to ensure a Peoria airport wouldn't "constrain the safety, efficiency or capacity" of Deer Valley, Luke or any other area airports.
  • He noted the Valley's airspace is "among the most complex and congested in the nation."
  • Makovsky said his list of concerns wasn't all-inclusive, given how little is publicly known about the proposal, and asked that Phoenix aviation experts participate as stakeholders in the feasibility study.

The other side: Peoria hasn't responded to Makovsky's letter yet, but in a statement provided to Axios Phoenix, Buss noted the city's in the early stages of an exploratory process.

  • "Because we are so very early in the process, there is no expectation of any official position from any stakeholder at this time and we appreciate Phoenix's offer of expertise and assistance as we go through the study process," he said.

Of note: Makovsky wrote that the proposed airport would presumably be located at the site of the former Pleasant Valley Airport, at Lake Pleasant Parkway and Old Carefree Highway, but Peoria spokesperson Diane Arthur said no site had been selected.

Meanwhile, Maj. Christopher Herbert, a spokesperson for Luke, said officials have no concerns because the potential effects on the base's operations are unknown.

  • Luke has had direct conversations with the city about the airport and will continue to work closely with Peoria as more definitive plans are developed, he said.
  • Peoria's fact sheet said the proposed airport won't negatively impact Luke.

What's next: The current study is the first of four required by the FAA, Arthur told Axios Phoenix, and one of six total studies or reports the city will conduct.

  • It will provide recommendations on preliminary location, alternative locations, market analysis and other details.
  • The fact sheet said the study would begin July 1, 2023, and is expected to be completed in late spring 2024.

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