Local, federal officials consider future of South Valley Regional Airport

Chaffetz says it needs to be improved or shut down

Published: Saturday, Sept. 18 2010 12:50 a.m. MDT

Chaffetz also noted the financial incentive to Salt Lake City of closing the West Jordan airport, which operates at a loss.

"It would be a cost savings to the city of Salt Lake in these tight budget times," he said, "and that's an important consideration."

Barbara Gann, spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City Department of Airports, confirmed that South Valley Regional Airport is subsidized by the department, though it does so, she said, because it plays an important role in "relieving the traffic in Salt Lake City International Airport."

"It's beneficial to the local aviation network, and that's why we subsidize it," Gann said.

Because Salt Lake City operates on a four-day work week, the dollar amounts of those annual subsidies weren't available Friday, she said.

Chaffetz said his discussions with aviation officials indicate that other Wasatch Front airports — specifically Provo, Ogden, Tooele and Heber — could act as "relievers" for Salt Lake City International.

There are problems with that plan, too, Gann said. Tooele's airport, which also is owned by Salt Lake City, lacks infrastructure, as does the airport in Heber.

"Someone would have to make significant amounts of financial commitments to build those to do what West Jordan does now," Gann said. "I think that's highly unlikely."

Mayor Johnson has requested that a discussion about the future of South Valley Regional Airport be on the agenda for the City Council's Oct. 13 meeting. The most West Jordan leaders could do, however, is pass a resolution in support of closing the airport and forward it to Salt Lake City.

"It's not something that Salt Lake is necessarily seeking," Chaffetz said, "but I'm hopeful they would be open to the possibility."

Salt Lake City Councilman Carlton Christensen described the West Jordan airport as "a key component of general aviation" in the Salt Lake Valley.

"I just don't see that discussion going very far," Christensen said.

e-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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