It was 25 years ago that the Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport (IFP) held its official Grand Opening.
In 1942, when the Davis Dam was being constructed on the Colorado River just north of Bullhead City, a landing strip was constructed on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property a couple miles south on the Arizona side of the river to transport construction equipment and personnel. In the late 1960s, the landing strip was leased to Mohave County, who in turn leased it to Bullhead Airport, Inc., who operated a fixed base operation. About 10 years later, a new lease was formed between Mohave County and the Mohave County Airport Authority, a non-profit corporation established to operate the Airport.
These changes allowed for some improvements to the airport, but the burgeoning success of the casino industry across the river in Laughlin, Nevada began to demand an airport that could better serve commercial passenger service and larger corporate aircraft.
While Clark County, Nevada was examining potential airports sites to serve Laughlin on the west side of the river in Nevada, Coffman Associates was retained in 1987 to examine what might be feasible at the existing Bullhead City Airport location. Our firm prepared a Master Plan and subsequent Environmental Assessment to allow for the transition from the small Bullhead City Airport to a commercial passenger service airport capable of accommodating large jet charters, scheduled commercial passenger service, and corporate jet aircraft.
The plan was to build a new jet-capable runway “up the hill” from the existing airport, and to develop a new large apron and commercial passenger terminal. Initially, general aviation remained at the old airport, with a taxiway connecting it to the new runway. Over time, general aviation would also be relocated to the new site, the connecting taxiway closed, and the old airport site decommissioned. The casino owners supported the Arizona site because of its location right across the river.
After construction of the new airfield, a Grand Opening was held on November 9, 1991. Mesa Airlines continued its air service to the community, and casino charter jets also began to operate into IFP. Within two years, passenger traffic had more than doubled.
Since that time, the Airport has become financially self-supporting and has undergone numerous improvements and upgrades, including a 1,000-foot runway extension that is currently under construction. American Airlines also recently announced that they will begin offering regional jet service from Phoenix to IFP in February of 2017.
For the last 25 years, Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport has been committed to providing a world class air travel facility for the Tri-State Region. Congratulations to the Mohave County Airport Authority on this historic milestone! Coffman Associates is very proud to continue our role in planning for your success.