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Palm Springs International Airport
Palm Springs Army Airfield
|Owner||City of Palm Springs|
|Operator||City of Palm Springs Aviation Department|
|Serves||Coachella Valley Inland Empire|
|Location||Palm Springs, California|
|Elevation AMSL||476 ft / 145 m|
Palm Springs International Airport (IATA: PSP, ICAO: KPSP, FAA LID: PSP), formerly Palm Springs Municipal Airport, is two miles (3 km) east of downtown Palm Springs, California. The airport covers 940 acres (380 ha) and has two runways. The facility operates year-round, with most flights occurring in the fall, winter, and spring.
The airport was described as number 3 in a 2011 listing of "America's Most Stress-Free Airports" by Smarter Travel.
PSP was built as a United States Army Air Corps emergency landing field in 1939 on land owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians due to its clear weather and its proximity to March Field and the Los Angeles area.
In March 1941 the War Department certified improvements to the existing airport in Palm Springs as essential to National Defense. The airport was approved to serve as a staging field by the Air Corps Ferrying Command 21st Ferrying Group in November 1941. Land was acquired to build a major airfield a half mile from the old airfield site. The new airfield, Palm Springs Army Airfield was completed in early 1942, and the old air field was then used only as a backup. (Aerial pic of the old airfield at , looking ENE)
Many of the field's Air Transport Command 560th Army Air Forces Base Unit personnel stayed at the comfortable Lapaz Guest Ranch nearby. Training conducted at the airfield was by the 72d and 73d Ferrying Squadrons in long-distance over-water flying and navigation. Later, training was also provided to pursuit pilot training by IV Fighter Command 459th Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron. Training was in P-51 Mustangs, P-40 Warhawks and P-38 Lightnings.
On June 1, 1944, training moved to Brownsville Army Airfield, Texas, and the airfield was used for Army and Navy transport flights until the end of April 1945. The auxiliary field or backup field was declared surplus on May 12, 1945, and the main airfield was declared excess and transferred to the War Assets Administration for disposal in 1946 and it was sold to private buyers. The City of Palm Springs purchased the land in 1961 and converted it to Palm Springs Municipal Airport.
Palm Springs had scheduled passenger service in 1934 operated by Palm Springs Air Lines with Ford Trimotor aircraft with flights to the Union Air Terminal (now the Hollywood Burbank Airport) in Burbank. Western Airlines flights began in 194546 followed by Bonanza Air Lines in 195758. In 1964 Western Lockheed L-188 Electras flew nonstop to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego. Bonanza and successors Air West and Hughes Airwest served Palm Springs for many years with the Fairchild F-27 followed by Douglas DC-9s. American Airlines Boeing 707s appeared in winter 1967-68. By 1969 American had four Boeing 707 departures a day from the airport, two nonstops to Los Angeles and two nonstops to Phoenix and on to Chicago. Trans World Airlines (TWA) Boeing 707s arrived in 1978, flying to Chicago via Phoenix.
Scheduled nonstops did not reach beyond California, Las Vegas, and Phoenix until winter 196970 when American Airlines started a nonstop to Chicago O'Hare Airport. In the 1970s American McDonnell Douglas DC-10s appeared, the largest aircraft ever scheduled to PSP. In 1976 American was flying the DC-10 to LaGuardia Airport via Chicago O'Hare Airport and Boeing 727-100s to Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix and Los Angeles. In 1976 Western Boeing 727-200s and Boeing 737-200s flew nonstop to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 1987 Western was merged into Delta Air Lines which continues to serve PSP seasonally. Other jets to Palm Springs in the past included Air21, Air California and successor Air Cal, America West Airlines, CP Air, the original Frontier Airlines (1950-1986), Hughes Airwest, Morris Air, Pacific Express, Pan Am, Reno Air, Republic Airlines (1979-1986) and USAir.
Commuter and regional airlines at Palm Springs from the late 1970s to the 1990s included Air Bahia, Air Nevada, American Eagle operated by Wings West Airlines, America West Express operated by Mesa Airlines, Cable Commuter Airlines, California Seaboard Airlines, Dash Air, Delta Connection operated by SkyWest Airlines, Imperial Airlines, Inland Empire Airlines, Scenic Airlines, SkyWest Airlines (operating independently), Sun Aire Lines, Swift Aire Lines, Trans World Express operated by Alpha Air, United Express operated by WestAir and later by SkyWest Airlines, and USAir Express followed by US Airways Express operated by Trans States Airlines and StatesWest Airlines.
On December 30, 2006 a U.S. Air Force Presidential Boeing VC-25 (the USAF military version of the Boeing 747), departed Palm Springs International Airport with the body of the 38th President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, and delivered it to Washington, D.C., for memorial services.
Although a true international airport, PSP only has U.S. customs and immigration facilities for general aviation aircraft including business jets. All international airline flights are currently operated from Canadian cities that have pre-clearance facilities.
PSP's passenger terminal consists of three partsthe main building, the elevated Sonny Bono Concourse to the north, and a yet-unnamed concourse to the south. Airside, it has a unique open-air layout in that all passenger walkways connecting these structures are roofless.
The main building is the land side of the airport. Road traffic accesses the airport directly off of Tahquitz Canyon Way (from downtown) or Kirk Douglas Way, itself fed by Ramon Road from points east. Uncovered parking areas are directly in front of the building. The center section houses the security screening area and automatic doors to/from the open-air walkways airside. Ticketing is on the right (south) wing, while baggage claim and car rental counters are on the left (north).
Departing passengers are routed first to airline ticket counters or kiosks for checking in. Since all gates at Palm Springs are in the two outlying concourses, passengers must pass through the security screening area for admittance into the secure air side of the airport. After leaving the main building via the automatic doors leading out to the open-air courtyard, passengers can access seventeen full-service gates at the two concourses.
On November 4, 1999, the new Sonny Bono Concourse opened as part of the 19942000 expansion. Named in honor of the late singer, congressman and former mayor of the city, this newer concourse is the elevated one of the two. It is used for larger aircraft (such as the Boeing 737) because of its jet bridges. SB's outdoor escalator and walkway are shaded by a designer roofline similar to that of the Denver International Airport.
The older unnamed concourse on the south side, simply known in signage as "Gates 1220", is at the tarmac level and hosts smaller aircraft. Boarding uses ramps or airstairs.
|Air Canada||Seasonal: Vancouver|
|Air Canada Rouge||Seasonal: TorontoPearson|
|Alaska Airlines|| Everett (begins November 5, 2019), Portland (OR), San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma|
Seasonal: New YorkJFK
|American Airlines|| Dallas/Fort Worth |
|American Eagle||Phoenix-Sky Harbor|
|Contour Airlines||Seasonal: Sacramento (begins September 16, 2019)|
|Delta Air Lines||Seasonal: Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Seattle/Tacoma|
|Delta Connection||Salt Lake City|
|Frontier Airlines||Seasonal: ChicagoO'Hare, Denver|
|JetBlue||Seasonal: Boston, New YorkJFK|
|Sun Country Airlines||Seasonal: Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Portland (OR), San Francisco|
|United Airlines|| Denver, San Francisco|
Seasonal: ChicagoO'Hare, HoustonIntercontinental, Newark
|United Express|| Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco|
Seasonal: ChicagoO'Hare, HoustonIntercontinental
|WestJet|| Calgary, Vancouver|
Seasonal: Edmonton, Winnipeg
|1||San Francisco, California||197,000||Alaska, Sun Country, United|
|2||Seattle/Tacoma, Washington||156,000||Alaska, Delta|
|3||Denver, Colorado||118,000||Frontier, United|
|4||PhoenixSky Harbor, Arizona||110,000||American|
|5||Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas||100,000||American, Sun Country|
|6||ChicagoO'Hare, Illinois||77,000||American, Frontier, United|
|7||Portland, Oregon||66,000||Alaska, Sun Country|
|8||Salt Lake City, Utah||49,000||Delta|
|9||Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota||42,000||Delta, Sun Country|
PSP is served by both municipal and regional routes. Sunline's SunBus route 24 provides direct service to downtown Palm Springs via the bus stops at El Cielo/Kirk Douglas and Tahquitz/Civic. Morongo Basin Transit Authority provides service to Twentynine Palms. An Amtrak Thruway bus stop is located just outside the baggage claim area, with service to Cabazon (Morongo Casino), Riverside, and Fullerton.
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