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
PSP is located in California
Location within California
Direction Length Surface
ft m
13R/31L 10,000 3,048 Asphalt
13L/31R 4,952 1,509 Asphalt
Statistics (2014)
Passengers: 1,907,214
Aircraft operations: 57,097
Based aircraft: 96

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.[1]


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[2] 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.

Western Airlines flights began in 1945–46 and Bonanza Airlines in 1957–58; American appeared in winter 1967–68 and TWA in 1978–79. Scheduled nonstops did not reach beyond Southern California, Las Vegas, and Phoenix until the winter of 1969–70 when American Airlines started a Chicago nonstop route. In the 1970s, American started Douglas DC-10 wide body flights, the largest airliner ever scheduled to PSP.

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 to Washington, D.C., for memorial services.

Although a true international airport, PSP does have customs for general aviation aircraft only, and immigration facilities; all inbound commercial international 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.[3] 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,[4] 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]


Airlines Destinations Terminal/Gates
Air Canada Rouge Seasonal: Vancouver Sonny Bono
Alaska Airlines Portland (OR), San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma Sonny Bono
Alaska Airlines
operated by Horizon Air
Seasonal: Sacramento 12–20
Allegiant Air Bellingham Sonny Bono
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare, Phoenix (begins March 3, 2016)
Sonny Bono
American Eagle Phoenix 12-20
Delta Air Lines Seasonal: Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul Sonny Bono
Delta Connection Salt Lake City
Seasonal: Seattle/Tacoma
JetBlue Seasonal: New York–JFK Sonny Bono
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul Sonny Bono
United Airlines Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, San Francisco Sonny Bono
United Express Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco
Seasonal: Houston-Intercontinental
Virgin America Seasonal: New York–JFK, San Francisco Sonny Bono
WestJet Calgary, Vancouver
Seasonal: Edmonton, Toronto–Pearson, Winnipeg
Sonny Bono


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from PSP (Oct 2014 – Sep 2015)[5]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 San Francisco, California 152,000 Alaska, United, Virgin America
2 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 119,000 Alaska, Delta
3 Phoenix, Arizona 112,000 US Airways
4 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 95,000 American
5 Denver, Colorado 71,000 Frontier, United
6 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 45,000 American, United
7 Portland, Oregon 39,000 Alaska
8 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 37,000 Delta, Sun Country
9 Salt Lake City, Utah 36,000 Delta
10 Bellingham, Washington 29,000 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 websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

External links[edit]