Santa Teresa Airport construction could cost businesses

Potential problems with construction at Santa Teresa Airport

EL PASO, Texas - After a long day of flying, the pilot of a Cessna 172 can land his or her private plane on the runways of the Dona Ana County Airport at Santa Teresa.

Once landed, the plane is parked in the hangers of Francis Aviation, a first-class fixed business operator, just a third of mile down Airport Road.

Here the pilot can kick back in the lounge, eat, read, maybe catch a move, and refuel.

But pending construction this October at the Santa Teresa Airport, intended to improve the runway and provide for more parking, could block pilots from flying into Francis Aviation, crushing Tyler Francis' business for an estimated six weeks or more.

"It's just going to put everything to a complete standstill here," Francis said. 

The $44 million project funded by the Federal Aviation Administration to improve Santa Teresa could end up costing Francis $100,000 and leave him no choice but to lay-off some of his employees.

"Every bill is going to be due no matter or not we can sell something or not, which is a scary premise when you think of what it costs and not being able to make a penny," Francis said.

Airport Spokesman Jess Williams said paving the landing strip won't shut down the airport since they're counting on using their taxi lane, that is, if everything goes as planned.

"Some of the businesses located on the airport are going to feel a little discomfort as anybody does when there's construction," Williams said/ "We don't anticipate any closures obviously, but when your in a construction project sometimes things can happen."

For now, Francis is counting on that lane being open, although he's only 25 percent confident it will actually happen. 

"We're just going to have to sit on our hands and wait," Francis said.

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