Nov. 23, 2020

Located 6 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, Doña Ana County International Jetport (DNA) recently completed a one-year, $9 million upgrade for its 37-year-old runway, which marks just the first step in developing the southern New Mexico airport into a hub for business aviation and commercial air cargo operations.

“The original runway was built in three sections, with the oldest rated for just 20,000 lbs,” said airport manager William Provance. “This airport was originally intended to be a reliever field for El Paso International Airport (ELP) and had a really strong taxiway, but a really weak runway.”

The new 9,950′ x 75′ Runway 10/28 can accommodate aircraft up to 94,000 lbs. and includes LED surface lighting. The project was funded through the FAA Airport Improvement Program along with grants from the state legislature and governor’s office.

Provance noted the improved runway will help support existing users and attract new companies to nearby Santa Teresa Industrial Park and the large Union Pacific intermodal hub immediately northwest of the field. “We have roughly 140-150 airplanes here, including two [Gulfstream] G500s, and 32 corporate hangars,” he said. “We’re open for business.”

It could also be just the beginning of expansion at DNA. Provance noted several air cargo operators have expressed interest in locating to the field to avoid the drive to El Paso International Airport (ELP), which lies just 22 nm southeast but, with the Franklin Mountains in between, can be as long as an hour away in heavy traffic.

“[A company] south of the border that manufactures 50,000 computers a day wanted to bring a [Boeing] 747 in here last month,” Provance added. “Obviously, that wouldn’t quite work with a 75-foot wide runway and our current weight limit.”

With such requests in mind, the next major project at DNA is developing a crosswind runway that could ultimately support large turbine passenger and cargo aircraft. “We’ve started the archaeological survey and also have a wind study underway,” Provance said. “Our airport master plan describes an initial 6,400′ x 75′ runway that could eventually be expanded to 12,000′ x 150’.”

Like many general aviation airports, DNA saw a marked reduction in traffic earlier this year with the onset of COVID-19. The airport received $64,000 in CARES Act funding, which Provance used to purchase field maintenance equipment. He noted levels have since rebounded, with the airport recently posting a record month of more than 3,000 operations.

Learn more about Doña Ana County International Jetport.