"Arizona's Beach" will now be only a short flight away.
A new international airport in Puerto Peñasco — also known as Rocky Point — is to open next week. Initially, there will be service for private and executive flights, and the hope is to have commercial flights to and from Tucson, Phoenix and Hermosillo beginning in January.
The Mar de Cortes International Airport was built by Operadora Aeroportuaria Golfo de Cortes. S.E. de C.V. with an initial investment of $45 million, said Fernando Antillón, airport director.
"This is a terminal that is going to keep growing … according to the demand," said Antillón.
The airport is 20 miles south of Puerto Peñasco and about 60 miles from the U.S. border. Puerto Peñasco is 35 minutes by air from Phoenix and one hour from Los Angeles.
The terminal will be inaugurated next Thursday by Mexico's president, Felipe Calderón, as well as representatives from the tourism industry.
It will be fully operational by 2012, but currently its 1.55-mile concrete runway is capable of handling all types of service and aircraft up to Boeing 757s and similar aircraft, according to airport officials.
Antillón said the next phase of the construction will bring the total investment in the project to nearly $80 million.
The airport is operated by a subsidiary of conglomerate Grupo Vidanta, which is currently building several resort and residential developments in the region. Grupo Vidanta built and operates the Mayan Palace in Rocky Point.
Airport construction started in 2007. At that time, Grupo Vidanta built in six months a provisional airport to accommodate a Mexico-U.S. border governors conference in Puerto Peñasco.
by the numbers
Next week, Puerto Peñasco will open its first international airport.
• Investment: $45 million.
• Located: 20 miles south of Puerto Peñasco, 60 miles from the U.S. border.
• Flights to and from: Hermosillo, Sonora, Tucson, Phoenix and other gateways in Canada and the U.S.
• Puerto Peñasco:
• 80% of U.S. visitors are from Arizona.
• 62% of visitors are between 31 and 50 years of age with high income levels.
• Tourism arrivals have increased from 1.2 million in 1998 to 2.35 million in 2008.
SOURCE: Mar de Cortes International Airport