Palm Springs International Airport

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Palm Springs International Airport
Palm Springs Army Airfield
Palm Springs International Airport photo D Ramey Logan.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner City of Palm Springs
Operator Palm Springs Aviation Department

Coachella Valley

Inland Empire
Location Palm Springs, California
Elevation AMSL 476 ft / 145 m
Coordinates 33°49′47″N 116°30′24″W / 33.82972°N 116.50667°W / 33.82972; -116.50667
Website Palm Springs International Airport
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
PSP is located in California
PSP is located in the US
Location within California/United States
Direction Length Surface
ft m
13R/31L 10,000 3,048 Asphalt
13L/31R 4,952 1,509 Asphalt
Statistics (2016)
Passengers 1,998,206
Aircraft operations 55,924

Palm Springs International Airport (IATA: PSPICAO: KPSPFAA LID: PSP), formerly Palm Springs Municipal Airport, is a public airport two miles (3 km) east of downtown Palm Springs, California. The airport covers 940 acres (380 ha) and has two runways. The airport is highly seasonal, with most flights operating during the winter.

The airport was named one of "America's Most Stress-Free Airports" by Smarter Travel.[2]


Military use[edit]

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 one half miles from the old airfield site. The new airfield, Palm Springs Army Airfield[3] was completed in early 1942, and the old air field was then used only as a backup. (Aerial pic of the old airfield at 33°49′37″N 116°31′59″W / 33.827°N 116.533°W / 33.827; -116.533, 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.

Airline service[edit]

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.[4] Western Airlines flights began in 1945–46 followed by Bonanza Airlines in 1957–58. Bonanza and successors Air West and Hughes Airwest served Palm Springs for many years with such aircraft as the Fairchild F-27 turboprop followed by Douglas DC-9-10 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jets. American Airlines appeared in winter of 1967–68 with Boeing 707 jetliners. By 1969, American was operating four Boeing 707 departures a day from the airport with two nonstops to Los Angeles and two nonstops to Phoenix with these latter flights both offering direct one stop service to Chicago.[5] Trans World Airlines (TWA) began service in 1978 also with Boeing 707s with daily nonstop service to Phoenix and direct one stop service to Chicago. Scheduled nonstops did not reach beyond California, Las Vegas, and Phoenix until the winter of 1969–70 when American Airlines started a Chicago nonstop route although direct, no change of plane service was operated to destinations in the east. During the 1970s, American began operating McDonnell Douglas DC-10 wide body jetliners into the airport which was the largest aircraft ever scheduled into PSP. In 1976, American was flying the DC-10 on direct one stop service from New York City LaGuardia Airport via Chicago O'Hare Airport and was also operating nonstop Boeing 727-100 jet service from Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix and Los Angeles with direct, no change of plane 727 flights from Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Louisville, New York City and Washington D.C.[6] At this same time in 1976, Western was operating Boeing 727-200 and Boeing 737-200 service nonstop from Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco with direct jet flights from Minneapolis/St. Paul, Portland, OR, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Vancouver, BC in Canada.[7] In 1987, Western was merged into Delta Air Lines which continues to serve PSP on a seasonal basis with mainline flights. Other airlines operating jet service into Palm Springs in the past included Air21, Air California and its successor Air Cal, America West Airlines, CP Air, the original Frontier Airlines (1950-1986), Hughes Airwest, Pacific Express, Pan Am, Reno Air, Republic Airlines (1979-1986) and USAir.[8] According to the OAG, jet aircraft operated by these airlines included the Boeing 727-200, 737-200 and 737-300, the British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven, the Fokker F28 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 and MD-80.

According to various Official Airline Guide (OAG) editions, a number of commuter and regional airlines also served Palm Springs primarily with turboprop aircraft over the years from the late 1970s through the 1990s, including 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.[9] Also according to the OAG, these air carriers served PSP with such turboprop aircraft types as the Beechcraft 1900C, British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31, de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, de Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8, Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia, Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner, Fokker F27 and Saab 340 primarily with service to Los Angeles (LAX) but also to Las Vegas (LAS) and Phoenix (PHX). Several of the smaller airlines flew Cessna and Piper twin prop aircraft as well.

Other past use[edit]

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.

U.S. Customs clearance[edit]

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 from Canadian cities that have pre-clearance facilities.


PSP's passenger terminal consists of three parts—the main building, the elevated Sonny Bono Concourse to the north, and a yet-unnamed concourse to the south.[10] Airside, it has a unique open-air layout in that all passenger walkways connecting these structures are roofless.

Main Building[edit]

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.

The Sonny Bono Concourse, with Bono's bust to the right of the escalator.

Sonny Bono Concourse (Gates 4–11)[edit]

On November 4, 1999, the new Sonny Bono Concourse opened as part of the 1994-2000 expansion. Named in honor of the late singer, congressman and former mayor of the city,[11] 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.

Gates 12–20[edit]

The older unnamed concourse on the south side, simply known in signage as "Gates 12–20", is at the tarmac level and hosts smaller aircraft. Boarding uses ramps or airstairs.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Sun Country & United at the airport.
Sonny Bono Concourse at the airport.
Sonny Bono Concourse at the airport.
Palm Springs airport.
United plane at the airport.


Airlines Destinations
Air Canada Rouge Seasonal: Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver
Alaska Airlines Portland (OR), San Francisco (ends August 26, 2017), Seattle/Tacoma
Allegiant Air Bellingham
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare
American Eagle Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Delta Air Lines Seasonal: Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Seattle/Tacoma (begins December 21, 2017)[12]
Delta Connection Salt Lake City
Seasonal: Seattle/Tacoma
JetBlue Airways New York–JFK
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
United Airlines Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, San Francisco
United Express Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare, Houston–Intercontinental
Virgin America San Francisco
Seasonal: New York–JFK
WestJet Calgary, Vancouver
Seasonal: Edmonton, Toronto–Pearson, Winnipeg

Cargo Airlines[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Ameriflight Ontario


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from PSP (March 2016 – February 2017)[13]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 San Francisco, California 171,410 Alaska, United, Virgin America
2 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 126,750 Alaska, Delta
3 Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona 109,480 American
4 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 98,470 American
5 Denver, Colorado 75,230 United
6 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 56,400 American, United
7 Portland, Oregon 42,590 Alaska
8 Salt Lake City, Utah 35,200 Delta
9 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 31,590 Delta, Sun Country
10 Bellingham, Washington 24,190 Allegiant

Ground transportation[edit]

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. An Amtrak Thruway bus stop is located just outside the baggage claim area, with service to Cabazon (Morongo Casino), Riverside, and Fullerton. Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft are not permitted to drop off or pick up passengers on airport property.

Palm Springs International Airport

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  1. ^ "PSP Statistical Data". City of Palm Springs. January 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017. 
  2. ^ "America's Most Stress-Free Airports -". 
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Palm Springs Army Air Field (historical)
  4. ^, Dec. 20, 1934 Palm Springs Air Lines timetable
  5. ^, Mar. 30, 1969 American Airlines system timetable
  6. ^ Feb. 1, 1976 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Palm Springs flight schedules
  7. ^ Feb. 1, 1976 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Palm Springs flight schedules
  8. ^, Route Maps
  9. ^, Official Airline Guide (OAG) editions: Nov. 15, 1979; April 1, 1981; Feb. 1, 1985; April 2, 1995; June 1, 1999
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Airport Adds Sonny Bono Concourse". Billboard. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). "Palm Springs, CA: Palm Springs International (PSP) Scheduled Services except Freight/Mail". U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT). Retrieved May 31, 2017. 

External links[edit]