New air traffic control tower is big part of Mesa Gateway Airport’s future growth plan

Oct 5, 2022, 6:50 AM

MESA, Ariz. – The new air traffic control tower at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport has been operating for more than a month, replacing one that dated back more than half a century.

The tower is named after the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, who was instrumental in removing a federal rule that limited the airport’s ability to build the tower. It went into service Aug. 27.

“The old tower was built when this was an Air Force base in the ’70s,” airport spokesman Ryan Smith said.

“So we’ve actually needed a new air traffic control tower for quite a while.”

Measuring nearly 200 feet tall, the John S. McCain III Air Traffic Control Tower is 60% taller than the old one. Its cab also has the capacity for eight controllers instead of four.

“This air traffic control tower will carry us through for decades to come,” Smith said.

He stressed the new tower was needed to keep up with the airport’s massive growth and record-setting passenger activity.

Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport just had its busiest August, welcoming more than 120,000 passengers, he said. It offers nonstop flights to 60 destinations in the United States and Canada, and services nearly 2 million passengers
a year.

A recent study by the Arizona Department of Transportation found the airport produces $1.8 billion annually in economic activity and employs more than 10,000 people.

As the airport continues to grow, the next big project is the construction of a 30,000-square-foot terminal concourse that will have five gates. It’ll replace a portable structure that was meant to be temporary when it was installed in 2008.

Construction for the new terminal began on Monday and will take 12-18 months to be completed.

“That’ll be the last big project that we do here at the airport, but it’ll take us through and allow us to grow over the next decade,” Smith said.

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New air traffic control tower is big part of Mesa Gateway Airport’s future growth plan