EL PASO, Texas - The Amigo Airsho could be close to striking a deal with the Santa Teresa Airport, a move that would keep the more than three-decade long annual tradition in the Borderland for many years to come.
Federal budget cuts from the sequester forced the Airsho to leave Biggs Army Airfield after 31 years. But it appears a five-year deal with Santa Teresa Airport is being negotiated and may be finalized in the next couple of weeks, in time for this year's Amigo Airsho, which has been flying through the Borderland since the 1980s.
Many feared federal budget cuts would ground the annual tradition in these parts. But airport officials confirmed a deal is in the works to bring the Airsho to the Santa Teresa-Dona Ana County Airport, starting this October and continuing through 2017.
"We know that the Airsho is not going back to Biggs this year," said Vernon Wilson, manager of the Santa Teresa Airport. "They have approached us with the possibility of moving the Airsho here in the second week of October."
October 12 and 13 to be exact, the same dates the Airsho had been scheduled for Biggs Army Airfield.
"I would think probably a five-year contract would be in order," Wilson said. "It would be probably annually renewable."
Wilson said although the sequester could be lifted next fiscal year, allowing the Amigo Airsho to return to Biggs, a long-term deal in Santa Teresa makes sense for Airsho officials.
"The parking would be an obstacle that we would have to overcome, but we have some ideas on how to handle that," Wilson said. "They are going to have to invest some money early on to bring the airport, parking and so forth, up to the standards they had at Biggs. But if it's a long term deal it may be a sound investment for them."
Wilson said the current runway at Santa Teresa Airport is 9,500 feet long. They are also building another runway, a crosswind runway, which will be about 11,000 feet long, both of them capable of landing jets of all sizes.
"We have about 14 jets that are stationed here, so we're not a small podunk airport," he said. "We are an airport with some standing and we are perfectly capable of handling the aircraft and I think we're capable of handling the crowds."
Wilson said the War Eagles Museum and Francis Aviation are expected to be sponsors. The Canadian Snowbirds are scheduled for this year's show, making it one of only six air shows in the country featuring jets.
ABC-7 did speak with Amigo Airsho organizers Monday and although they would not confirm the move, they said they're working on options, including Santa Teresa, and plan to make an official announcement in the next week or two.