Silver City-Grant County Airport
The Grant County Airport is a commercial airport serving southwest New Mexico including the communities of Silver City, Hurley, Deming, and Lordsburg. The facility opened on November 30, 1951.
Commercial air service is provided by one commuter airline with daily flights to Albuquerque and Phoenix that are subsidized under the Essential Air Service program provided by the federal government.
Historical commercial airline service:
Frontier Airlines began serving the airport on December 1, 1951 as a stop on the carriers route between El Paso and Phoenix. This route also included stops at Las Cruces, Deming, and Lordsburg, New Mexico as well as at Clifton, Safford, and Tucson, Arizona. The stops at Las Cruces, Deming, and Lordsburg all ended in 1953 which made for nonstop flights from Silver City to El Paso. Initially Frontier operated Douglas DC-3’s on the route and upgraded to Convair 340 and Convair 580 aircraft during the 1960’s. The Phoenix to El Paso route was modified in the mid-1950’s to operate from Phoenix to Albuquerque providing service from Silver City to Albuquerque rather than El Paso. The stops at Clifton and Safford ended in the early 1960’s providing Silver City with nonstop flights to Tucson and occasionally a nonstop flight to Phoenix. The Phoenix and Tucson flights ended in 1974 and some Albuquerque flights began stopping in Alamogordo. Silver City was also briefly served by Aztec Airlines in 1966 and 1967 with service to Las Cruces and El Paso using a Piper Aztec aircraft. As Frontier was designated as a local service carrier by the federal government and the carrier was serving the Grant County Airport at the time of airline deregulation in 1978, Silver City is eligible for guaranteed Essential Air Service (EAS) with government subsidy.
Frontier ended all flights to Silver City by the end of 1979 at which time a series of commuter airlines began serving the airport as outlined below:
Zia Airlines began flights to Albuquerque in early 1976 and later won the Essential Air Service (EAS) contract for the route after Frontier Airlines ended service. Zia used Cessna 402 aircraft and service continued until the airline went out of business on May 12, 1980.
Airways of New Mexico provided service from Silver City to El Paso in 1980 using a Piper Cherokee aircraft. The carrier had also applied for the EAS contract to serve Albuquerque but the award went to Air Midwest.
Air Midwest stepped in to serve Silver City and took over the EAS contract for flights to Albuquerque after the failure of Zia Airlines. Service operated from August 4, 1980 through March 31, 1985 and the carrier flew Swearingen Metroliner II aircraft.
Turner Aire provided flights to El Paso and Carlsbad for a brief period in 1985 using Cessna aircraft.
Mesa Airlines began flights to Albuquerque on March 4, 1985 with Beechcraft 99 aircraft and took over the EAS contract after Air Midwest ended service later that month. Mesa later upgraded to Beech 1900 aircraft and continued serving the airport for 20 years before flights ended on April 2, 2005.
Great Lakes Airlines then obtained the EAS contract and began service from Silver City to Albuquerque on April 3, 2005 with Beech 1900D aircraft. In late 2012 new flights to Phoenix were added but the Albuquerque flights ended a short time afterwards. After nearly ten years all service ended in late 2014.
Boutique Air was then awarded the EAS contract and began flights to Albuquerque on January 5, 2015 using Pilatus PC-12 aircraft. New service to Phoenix was also added later that year. Service ended on January 5, 2019 as the EAS contract was awarded to Advanced Air.
Advanced Air won the EAS contract for service beginning January 6, 2019. Flights operate to both Albuquerque and Phoenix using Beech Super King Air 350 aircraft. The carrier also occasionally operates a Dornier Fairchild 328Jet on a Hawthorne, California to Brownsville, Texas route that makes a fuel stop in Silver City, New Mexico.
When the EAS contract came up for renewal in 2021, one of the applicants was Denver Air Connection proposing to fly 30-seat Dornier Fairchild 328Jet’s but Silver City opted to stay with Advanced Air. Two years later in 2023, Contour Airlines had submitted a bid to use 30-seat Embraer 135 regional jets. Again, Silver City chose to stay with Advanced Air’s prop aircraft.
The Silver City-Grant County Airport is also served by airfreight carrier South Aero providing a feeder service for UPS and using a variety of small Cessna aircraft since 2019. Formerly, Ameriflight provided this service up until 2019.
The Grant County Airport also services large firefighting aircraft when needed such as the McDonell Douglas MD-87 flown by Erickson Aero Tanker. The Spring of 2022 saw extensive firefighting operations.