. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

County Manager Rick Rudometkin approached the board of commissioners Tuesday during the Eddy County Commission meeting to discuss the non-stop flight from Roswell to Phoenix, Ariz., and how it’s not, as of yet, meeting fiscal expectations.

During a project update, Rudometkin said the flight’s paid load factor, or total number of people aboard each flight, was around 71.5 percent. The flight’s target load factor is to stay above 80 percent.

The daily route began service March 3 through American Airlines. A flight departs Phoenix at 3:10 p.m. Monday through Sunday, arriving in Roswell at 5:45 p.m., with the return flight leaving Roswell at 6:15 p.m. and arriving at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport at 7:05 p.m.

As part of a commitment as members of the consortium responsible for bringing the Phoenix air service to Roswell, the Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP), along with cities and counties in the area, agreed to pay a portion of the minimum revenue guarantee (MRG) owed to American Airlines. The cities include Artesia, Carlsbad and Roswell, as well as the village of Ruidoso, and the counties include Chaves and Eddy.

Eddy County will pay a 13.3-percent portion of the MRG at a total of $34,958.65, and the City of Artesia will pay a 19.5-percent portion at a total of $52,437.97.

Recently, Gov. Susana Martinez visited Roswell and signed a bill stating lodger’s tax funds could assist with these flight expenses.

“The lodger’s tax is supposed to be for tourism and promoting tourism, and these flights are part of those efforts,” said Rudometkin. “We’re very happy [the expense] comes from lodger’s tax. We did not have to budget for it, so we saved a little bit of extra money going into this fiscal year.”

Although the project update was strictly an informational one and no vote was taken, the commissioners still expressed their concern regarding the low load factor.

“I hope people start using this flight, because it’d be a shame to see it go away after we’ve worked so hard to get it here,” said Commissioner Stella Davis.

In March, 907 inbound tickets and 934 outbound tickets were sold for a load factor of 62.6 percent and 64.4 percent respectively; in April, 878 inbound tickets and 938 outbound tickets were sold for a load factor of 58.5 percent and 62.5 percent; in May, 1,041 inbound tickets and 1,211 outbound tickets were sold for a load factor of 67.2 percent and 78.1 percent; and in June, 1,267 inbound tickets and 1,018 outbound tickets were sold for an 84.5- and 67.9-percent load factor.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners voted to vacate three more county roads, which include Waterhole Road (CR 406), White Drive (CR 88), and High Hopes Road (CR 18). Two roads, Ponderosa Pine (CR 402) and Hobble (CR 19A), were voted not to be vacated due to school-age children living in the residences at the end of each road.

As part of the consent agenda, the commissioners approved the donation of five Ford Crown Victoria vehicles to the Hobbs Police Academy and a resolution and agreement for membership in the Southeast New Mexico Economic Development District/Council of Governments