Palm Springs, CA

Big week for city’s small airport

The Palm Springs Post

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Two new aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles are being prepped for duty at Palm Springs International Airport.Palm Springs Fire Department

More passengers and more flights are only a few of the noteworthy things happening at Palm Springs International Airport.

City officials this week cut the ribbon on renovations at the airport’s ticket lobby and a new state-of-the-art baggage system, while the fire department welcomed the arrival of two new vehicles at the airport.

The new and updated equipment comes as the airport staff report more record-setting data. Passenger counts for July reached 129,463. That number represents a 32 percent increase over the previous record set in July 2019, when 97,834 total passengers streamed through the airport.

Traveler totals that were disrupted due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 began rebounding in May of this year and has exceeded pre-pandemic numbers throughout the summer. While still lagging in comparison to 2019 totals, July 2021 passenger numbers were up 283 percent compared to July 2020.

“This summer has been one of the busiest we’ve ever had at the airport, and we expect this rebound to continue with more available flights and 10 new routes starting this fall,” Palm Springs Mayor Christy Holstege said during a Monday ceremony. “With the completion of the ticket lobby renovations and the installation of a new baggage system, we are improving the airport user experience and accommodating future demand.”

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Members of the Palm Springs City Council and the city’s airport commission pose Monday prior to cutting the ribbon to celebrate renovations.City of Palm Springs

The ticket lobby upgrades and new baggage system are the culmination of a $36 million project that began in February 2020. It was first identified during the airport’s 2015 master plan update. During the lobby renovation, airline offices were reconfigured to allow passenger circulation areas to nearly double in size. Accessibility for passengers with disabilities was also improved, and additional ticket counters were added to accommodate a growing list of airlines flying in and out of Palm Springs.

The new firefighting equipment, which arrived on Sunday, is expected to replace similar vehicles first put into service in 2003. The aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) vehicles are being outfitted with radios and other needed equipment prior to entering service.

“Hopefully the units will be in service soon to continue protecting our residents and visitors at the Palm Springs International Airport,” a fire department spokesman said Monday.

One additional project at the airport is currently underway. That project will see the replacement of all passenger boarding bridges at the airport. That work, at a cost of $7 million, began in June and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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