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Capacity for larger planes, expansion plans for St. George Regional Airport underway

September 18, 2023 by Nicole Mason

ST. GEORGE — Dirt has been moving south of the terminal of the St. George Regional Airport since mid-summer due to one of the projects attached to the airport’s overall expansion.

The airport’s expanded apron (plane parking area) south of the terminal by the incoming Sandstone FBO facility, St. George, Utah, Sept. 8, 2023 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

On a warm Friday morning, Airport Director Rich Stehmeier took St. George News to the location of the airport’s expanded apron — basically an area where planes are parked for loading, unloading, maintenance and other services — which ran alongside what he jokingly called “a big hole.”

Heavy equipment was in the hole, which was about five feet deep, and creating clouds of dust as Stehmeier explained excavation will reach 17 feet deep, then refilled to create a better foundation for an incoming 11,000 square-foot structure that will house a fixed-based operator, or FBO, called Sandstone Aviation.

Construction on the building should begin in the next few weeks, Stehmeier said, and referred back to the apron and taxiway, which for the moment resembled a large, unmarked parking lot with construction workers, flag markers and work trucks dotting the landscape.

“They should begin striping (the apron) this afternoon,” Stehmeier said. “This has been a big project. We’re funding it with (federal) bills money from the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill.”

The price tag attached the project is estimated to be around $5.3 million, according to the St. George City 2023-24 budget.

The future location of the Sandstone FBO facility south of the St. George Regional Airport’s terminal, St. George, Utah, Sept. 8, 2023 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The Sandstone FBO building and apron will help expand operations at the airport as they cater to general aviation uses like charter and corporate flights, personal aircraft and non-commercial aviation that does not go through the terminal.

Sandstone is one of two fixed-based operators at the airport. The other, located on the north side of the airport, is Million Air which is housed in the former Above View Jet Center facility.

Leaving the airport’s new apron and taxiway, Stehmeier drove north past the airport and stopped to highlight the next project slated.

“Our terminal is our next big project that will start in October,” he said, as he gestured back toward the airport terminal behind him. “We will take the terminal ramp and remove all of the old concrete that’s been broken up and cracked, and then we will expand it as well (and) basically double the size of our ramp.”


The excavation taking place will also double the size of the terminal’s apron by adding up to five new parking locations for additional and larger aircraft. The terminal ramp will also be doubled in length to round 700 feet as well.

St. George Regional Airport Director Rich Stehmeier points back to the general location where plans are underway to expansion the airport terminal’s apron (plane parking area) and terminal ramp, St. George, Utah, Sept. 8, 2023 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

This project will run an estimated $12 million and is also funded through federal money by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, as well as airport-related fees, and does not dip into the city’s taxpayer-funded general fund, Stehmeier said.

SkyWest Airlines, which operates all commercial flights in and out of the airport on behalf of it partners United, American and Delta airlines, has historically used 50-seat Bombardier CRJ-200s for its flights. This has began to change as American and Delta have turned to planes with higher seat capacities for certain routes.

Current and future construction at the airport will help the airport more easily accommodate the shift to the large-capacity planes, Stehmeier said.

This shift has included the adoption of the 65-seat CRJ-700 by American in mid-2020 for its Phoenix route, and Delta using the 70-75 seat capacity CRJ-900 for Salt Lake City flights last December, Marissa Snow, a spokeswoman for SkyWest Airlines, said in an email to St. George News.

“SGU travel demand remains strong, which is great for the economy, tourism, and the community,” Snow said. “SkyWest has been very supportive of the airport’s construction work, including the future terminal expansion, which will improve the overall customer experience for St. George travelers.”

Future projects for the airport include maintenance and repair work being planned for the taxiway planned in 2024. Beyond that, plans to build a new air traffic control tower and an overhaul of the airport’s terminal that is estimated to grow the complex by an additional 30,000 square feet are also in the works.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved a control tower for the airport last summer that must be built within five years of that decision, Stehmeier said. Work on terminal expansion is expected to start in the next three to four years and could run up to $14 million to complete.

Ed. note: This story has been updated to include comments from SkyWest Airlines as well clarification regarding the capacity of seating in certain planes.

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