Improvements made at SGU with added safety in mind

By Jennifer Jensen

There are so many things happening at the St. George Regional Airport (SGU). Back in October 2023, Phase I of the commercial ramp expansion and rehabilitation project began. With it came the closure of part of a taxiway to prepare to tie in the new concrete wISG Aiport 1 - Copyith existing pavement — and to keep aircraft and construction vehicles from meeting in close quarters. 

It created a bottleneck on the runway because aircraft were required to back-taxi the main runway to reach the aircraft services on the north end. With the huge number of aircraft using the airport, it became a hazard. Airport management came up with a plan to reduce traffic and create spacing between aircraft so that everyone could fly and remain safe. 

The Prior Permission Required (PPR) rule went into place which initially caused some stress for pilots and airport staff, but with some communication everyone settled into a temporary state of acceptance. Pilots now call ahead hours before arrival or departure, and are assigned a number and a time to fly.

The PPR was just in time too, because in November the F1 Grand Prix came to Las Vegas and SGU was one of the overflow airports for all traffic going in and out of the Las Vegas area. Along with North Las Vegas, Henderson and Mesquite, St. George saw an incredible increase in private jet traffic leading up to and after the race. 

The strain that was placed on the ground traffic system at St. George was historic. The airport had 74 visiting jets and the fuel providers (FBOs) sold 39,000 gallons of aviation fuel in a single week. Little did the airport and FBO staff know, but the F1 Grand Prix would be a warm-up exercise for the Super Bowl in February. St. George Regional was again slated to be an overflow airport for the Las Vegas area and the lessons learned from the PPR and the F1 Grand Prix would prove invaluable. 

In preparation for another huge event bringing visiting jets into the airport, the FBOs and airport staff met often to measure parkings areas, prepare landing manifests, discuss ground traffic handling and so much more. Between the PPR and the FBOs taking reservations for parking spots, the airport was better prepared than ever before to handle the influx of football fans who would eventually be transported to Las Vegas to watch the big game. 

In spite of the anxiety felt by everyone at the airport, the lessons of the previous several months were absorbed. The week of the Super Bowl came and so did the jet traffic. Final numbers were roughly as follows: 170 visiting aircraft for the event and 120,000 gallons of aviation fuel sold in a five-day period.

Now that the Super Bowl is over, the airport is celebrating the completion of Phase I of the commercial ramp and the reopening of the taxiway that created so much pain for everyone involved. In addition, the airport will be expanding the boarding area of the terminal and move the SGU Express concessions upstairs to make room for additional seating, a bar and a restaurant. 

Phase II of the commercial ramp project began in March 2024. Much to everyone’s relief, it will have little to no impact on ground traffic at the airport. In fact, the concerns about PPRs and ground traffic problems will be a thing of the past when the FAA contract Air Traffic Control Tower is built in the next few years.

We’ll keep you posted.