A $9 million renovation at the Dona Ana Airport in Santa Teresa is aiming to give cargo planes easy access to the Borderland. The 160 planes that are housed at the airport have put significant wear and tear on the 36-year-old runway.
“We have two aircraft that weigh 80,000 pounds apiece, that operate 500 operations a year off the runway which is maximum capacity,” said Bill Provance, the Dona Ana County Airport manager.
The current runway is only slated to have a capacity of 20,000 pounds, about a quarter of what these larger planes weigh. Once the runway is rebuilt it would be able to handle planes that way 96,000 pounds.
This would also open up the runway to smaller cargo planes that could take advantage of companies who only use trucks for shipping. One example is the electronics company Foxconn. “They truck it here they build their computers, then they truck them back across the border and ship the computers out. so this would save them two days of transportation,” said Provance.
The airport has done economic studies over the past five years to show the repairs and upgrades are needed. The $9 million cost is being split almost 50/50 between the Federal Aviation Administration and the state of New Mexico.
With the need for air cargo transportation in the area, Provance said this could be the first step in expanding the land. He said, “our next project is to put in a crosswind runway which will eventually be up to 350,000 pounds and 12,000 feet long.”
The repairs have already begun with paint being stripped from the current runway by using high-pressure water trucks. Excavation and construction are expected to start in mid-October.