Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport , formerly Williams Gateway Airport, is a commercial airport located in the southeastern area of the city of Mesa, Arizona and 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Phoenix, in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. The airport is owned and operated by the Williams Gateway Airport Authority. The airport authority is governed by a five member board, composed of the mayors and tribal governor of the Town of Gilbert, City of Mesa, Town of Queen Creek, Gila River Indian Community and the City of Phoenix.
As per Federal Aviation Administration records, the airport had 1,655 passenger boardings (or enplanements) in calendar year 2005 and 3,790 enplanements (all unscheduled) in 2006. According to the FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2007-2011, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway was designated as a reliever airport, which is a general aviation airport that may be used to relieve congestion at a large commercial service airport. Allegiant Air began offering scheduled commercial service from this airport in October 2007.
Although most U.S. airports use the same three-letter location identifier for the FAA and IATA, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is assigned IWA by the FAA and AZA by the IATA (which assigned IWA to Yuzhny Airport in Ivanovo, Russia). The airport's former IATA code was CHD.
In 1948, Williams became the first jet training base, and in 1976 it was the first site of the Undergraduate Pilot Training program.
The 1991 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission recommended closing the base as its operating costs were too costly for the United States government; the base continued operating until 1993.
As the base was being shut down, it was decided that, with the growing traffic at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, an alternative airport would be needed in the area. The runway was expanded to accommodate jets, and the facility reopened in 1994 as Williams Gateway Airport. Bids began to be made for some airlines to begin flights almost immediately.
In 2004, charter airline Ryan International Airlines began offering MD-82 jet flights from there to Bullhead City International Airport in Bullhead City, Arizona, which is adjacent to Laughlin, Nevada and many resorts.
In recent years, the airport has again become a center of flight training. Several large flight schools now take advantage of the great flying weather in the Phoenix valley.
On July 31, 2007, the low-cost Las Vegas-based carrier Allegiant Air announced plans to open a focus city from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, connecting the Phoenix metropolitan area to 13 destinations. First service commenced on October 25, 2007 and additional cities commencing throughout the remainder of October and complete by November 21, 2007.
In a press release on September 17, 2007, the Williams Gateway Airport Authority governing board approved a name change for Williams Gateway Airport effective October 15, 2007. The new name is now Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Reasons behind the name change are "to have the airport reach its highest potential in creating jobs and commercial service development.
For the 12-month period ending December 31, 2006, the airport had 280,719 aircraft operations, an average of 769 per day: 93% general aviation, 4% military, 3% air taxi and <1% scheduled commercial. There are 111 aircraft based at this airport: 58% single-engine, 8% multi-engine, 19% jet and 15% helicopter.
In later years, the Gila River Indian Community and the City of Phoenix joined the Williams Gateway Airport Authority board. Gila River Indian Community joined in 1995 and the City of Phoenix joined in 2006.
Now that the change of the Williams Gateway Airport name to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport has occurred, the board approved resolution and ordinance does not change, diminish, give away, negate nor reduce any of the five board of directors and their respective city, town or tribal government member voting authority and respective ownership. Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport continues to be owned and operated by the Williams Gateway Airport Authority.
A five-member airport Board of Directors is composed of elected officials from neighboring cities and a tribal government. Authority communities are as of 2007: