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Mayor Phillip Burch, left, chats with Mack Energy Corporation Vice President Chance Chase, second from left, as the two disembark the inaugural American Airlines Phoenix to Roswell flight Thursday in Roswell. (Elizabeth Lewis - Daily Press)

Mayor Phillip Burch, left, chats with Mack Energy Corporation Vice President Chance Chase, second from left, as the two disembark the inaugural American Airlines Phoenix to Roswell flight Thursday in Roswell. (Elizabeth Lewis – Daily Press)

Southeast N.M. celebrates new Roswell to Phoenix flight service

As of Thursday, southeastern New Mexicans wishing to fly west no longer have to detour 400 miles to the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport.

American Airlines began daily nonstop service between Roswell and Phoenix Thursday in style, carrying area officials and dignitaries on the inaugural trip to Phoenix and back before hosting a gala reception.

Bob Entrop, master of ceremonies, reminded event-goers of the stresses that come with commuting to other airports for travel and celebrated the fact they are a thing of the past.

“This changes the world for a lot of people,” said Entrop. “We need to use these flights to see them be successful. I want to remind you how it is to be waking up at 2 in the morning, driving to Albuquerque, using the bathrooms at Vaughn, and the half-hour slug in security at other airports.”

Lt. Governor John Sanchez was among the officials at the reception and discussed the positive economic effect the flight will also have on the local communities.

“This flight coming into Southeast New Mexico is critical,” said Sanchez. “I think this route is going to be a tremendous tool in bringing in tourism so they can see everything we have to offer, such as aliens in Roswell, the Carlsbad Caverns, and Ruidoso.”

Roswell airport firetrucks create a water cannon salute for the new American Airlines 50-passenger jet as it arrives Thursday afternoon from Phoenix to the Roswell International Air Center. (Elizabeth Lewis - Daily Press)

Roswell airport firetrucks create a water cannon salute for the new American Airlines 50-passenger jet as it arrives Thursday afternoon from Phoenix to the Roswell International Air Center. (Elizabeth Lewis – Daily Press)

Several local dignitaries were among the passengers on Thursday’s first flight, including Mayor Phil Burch, employees of the Artesia Chamber of Commerce, and Chance Chase, vice president of Mack Energy Corporation.

“I remember the 2005 inaugural flight to Dallas and how successful that was,” said Burch during his speech at the reception. “The community, including the business community and FLETC, has really enjoyed that service and will enjoy the service to Phoenix just as much.”

The plane American Airlines is using is a Bombardier CRJ-200, with seating for 50 passengers.

The new flight will depart Phoenix at 3:10 p.m. Monday through Sunday, arriving in Roswell at 5:45 p.m. The return flight will depart Roswell International Air Center at 6:15 p.m. Monday through Sunday, arriving at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport at 7:05 p.m.

All times are local. Flight time is approximately one hour and 30 minutes.