Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport

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Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Logo November 2017.png
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorPhoenix Mesa Gateway Airport Authority
ServesPhoenix metropolitan area
LocationMesa, Arizona
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL1,384 ft / 421 m
Coordinates33°18′28″N 111°39′20″W / 33.30778°N 111.65556°W / 33.30778; -111.65556
FAA diagram
FAA diagram
IWA is located in Arizona
IWA is located in the United States
Direction Length Surface
ft m
12C/30C 10,201 3,109 Asphalt/Concrete
12L/30R 9,300 2,835 Concrete
12R/30L 10,401 3,170 Concrete
Statistics (2017)
Aircraft operations290,452
Based aircraft (2017)138
Passenger volume1,338,216

Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport (IATA: AZA, ICAO: KIWA, FAA LID: IWA), formerly Williams Gateway Airport (1994–2008) and Williams Air Force Base (1941–1993), is an international airport in the southeastern area of Mesa, Arizona, 20 miles (17 nmi) southeast of Phoenix, in Maricopa County, Arizona.[1] The airport is owned and operated by the Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport Authority, and is a reliever airport for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. It is a base for Allegiant Air. The airport authority is governed by a six-member board: the mayors of the towns of Gilbert and Queen Creek, the mayors of the cities of Mesa, Phoenix, and Apache Junction, and the tribal governor of the Gila River Indian Community.[2]

The FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2007–2011 called Phoenix–Mesa Gateway a reliever airport, which is a general aviation airport used to relieve congestion at a large airline airport.[3] Allegiant Air began scheduled service from Mesa in October 2007.[4] Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport records say the airport had 1,338,216 passenger boardings in calendar year 2017.

Most U.S. airports use the same three-letter location identifier for the FAA and IATA, but Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport has different codes for each. The aviation community generally uses the FAA code of IWA, while commercial passenger flight organizations use the IATA code of AZA.[5]


Airport entrance showing the former name
Baggage Claim Building
Baggage Claim Building

The airport was built in 1941 as Higley Field; it was renamed Williams Field on 24 February 1942 in honor of Arizona native 1st Lt. Charles Linton Williams (1898–1927), who while serving with the 19th Pursuit Squadron from Wheeler Field, Oahu was killed when he had to ditch his Boeing PW-9A, 26-353, in the Pacific Ocean about a mile off of Fort DeRussy, Territory of Hawaii. Then in 1948 the field was acquired by the United States military and renamed Williams Air Base in January 1948. It was a flight training field during World War II.

In 1948 Williams became the first jet training base, and in 1966 it was the first site of the Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) program.[6]

The 1991 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended closing the base, and it closed in 1993.

As the base was being shut down it was decided that, with the growing traffic at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, an alternative airport would be needed. The runway was expanded to accommodate airliners and the facility opened in 1994 as Williams Gateway Airport. Bids began for some airlines to begin flights almost immediately.

In 2004 charter airline Ryan International Airlines began MD-82 flights to Bullhead City International Airport in Bullhead City, Arizona, next to Laughlin, Nevada and many resorts.

In recent years the airport has again become a center of flight training; several flight schools take advantage of the weather in the Phoenix valley.

On July 31, 2007 the low-cost Las Vegas-based carrier Allegiant Air announced plans to open a focus city at Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport, connecting the Phoenix area to 13 cities. Service commenced on October 25, 2007, with cities being added until November 21, 2007.[4]

In a press release on September 17, 2007, the Williams Gateway Airport Authority governing board approved a name change for Williams Gateway Airport effective October 15, 2007 to Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport.

On June 16, 2015, after Elite Airways announced non-stop flights from San Diego and Salt Lake City to Phoenix–Mesa, Allegiant threatened to leave the airport.[7] This is primarily due to the incentives the airport is offering to Elite.[8] If Allegiant were to leave, it would consider relocating to the nearby Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.[9][10]

On January 21, 2017 Phoenix-Mesa welcomed its first international flight and first two international destinations, as Westjet inaugurated its seasonal service to Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta.[11] Westjet has already seen success at Phoenix Sky Harbor for years, with Calgary and Edmonton being the 1st and 6th most popular international destinations at Sky Harbor, respectively.[12]

Board of directors[edit]

In 1994 the Willams Gateway Airport Authority was established with a three-member board with representation from the three cities immediately adjacent to Williams Field. The original governing board consisted of the mayors of the towns of Gilbert and Queen Creek and the city of Mesa, who continue as members today.

In later years the Gila River Indian Community and the city of Phoenix joined the Williams Gateway Airport Authority board (now Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport Authority). Gila River Indian Community joined in 1995 and the City of Phoenix joined in 2006. The city of Apache Junction joined in 2013.

Now that the change of the Williams Gateway Airport name to Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport has occurred, the board approved resolution and ordinance does not change, diminish, give away, negate, nor reduce any of the board of directors and their respective city, town, or tribal government member voting authority and respective ownership. Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport continues to be owned and operated by the Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport Authority.

A six-member airport Board of Directors is composed of elected officials from neighboring cities and a tribal government. Authority communities are:


The airport covers 3,020 acres (1,220 ha) and has three paved runways:[1]

  • 12C/30C: 10,201 ft × 150 ft (3,109 m × 46 m) Asphalt/Concrete
  • 12L/30R: 9,300 ft × 150 ft (2,835 m × 46 m) Concrete
  • 12R/30L: 10,401 ft × 150 ft (3,170 m × 46 m) Concrete

In the year ending December 31, 2017 the airport had 290,452 aircraft operations, average 796 per day: 80% general aviation, 13% air taxi, 4% airline and 3% military. In 2017, 138 aircraft were based at this airport: 88 single-engine, 21 multi-engine and 29 jet.[1]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Allegiant Air aircraft in Blue Man Group livery.
Allegiant Air Appleton, Bellingham, Billings, Bismarck, Boise, Bozeman, Cedar Rapids, Chicago/Rockford, Cincinnati, Des Moines, Eugene, Fargo, Fort Collins (resumes November 22, 2019), Fort Wayne, Grand Forks, Grand Island, Grand Junction, Grand Rapids, Great Falls, Idaho Falls, Kansas City, Las Vegas, McAllen (TX) (begins October 03, 2019), Minot, Missoula, Moline/Quad Cities, Oakland, Ogden, Omaha, Pasco, Peoria, Provo, Rapid City, Redmond/Bend (begins October 04, 2019), Sioux Falls, South Bend, Springfield/Branson, St. Cloud, St. George, Stockton, Traverse City (begins November 13, 2019), Wichita
Seasonal: Belleville/St. Louis, Fayetteville/Bentonville (resumes November 14, 2019), Indianapolis, Kalispell, Medford, Memphis, Milwaukee
Swoop Winnipeg (begins December 15, 2019)
Seasonal: Edmonton[13]
WestJet Seasonal: Calgary


  • Air Evac (Medevac airline)
  • Fighter Combat International



Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from AZA
(October 2017 – September 2018)
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Provo, Utah 55,160 Allegiant
2 Sioux Falls, South Dakota 34,790 Allegiant
3 Fargo, North Dakota 31,460 Allegiant
4 Cedar Rapids, Iowa 28,360 Allegiant
5 Bellingham, Washington 22,840 Allegiant
6 Peoria, Illinois 22,490 Allegiant
7 Rapid City, South Dakota 22,200 Allegiant
8 Oakland, California 21,900 Allegiant
9 Bismarck, North Dakota 21,840 Allegiant
10 Des Moines, Iowa 20,710 Allegiant

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at AZA, 2001 through 2017[15]
Year Passengers Year Passengers
2001 000,000 2011 953,337
2002 000,000 2012 1,382,070
2003 000,000 2013 1,359,032
2004 000,000 2014 1,240,993
2005 000,000 2015 1,281,741
2006 000,000 2016 1,351,827
2007 000,000 2017 1,338,216
2008 350,661 2018 1,531,648
2009 573,480 2019 000,000
2010 799,674 2020 000,000

Future plans[edit]

One of the biggest issues at IWA is the increase in passengers since Allegiant Air started operations. IWA did not anticipate this growth within the first year. Due to the increase from 14,588 enplanements in 2007 to 159,481 in 2008, facilities were becoming crowded. To alleviate this problem, extensive renovations and expansions have been completed, adding nearly 70,000 square feet (6,500 m2) of new space within the terminal. This added eight gates since IWA was established in 1994. The Airport broke ground on a final expansion plan in early 2013, to increase gates to ten. However, IWA is running out of real estate on the west side of the airfield, which will bring a halt to expansions until the east terminal facilities are complete.

East Side Terminal plans[edit]

In response to the expansion issues, PMGAA has begun planning for a new east terminal. The plan titled, Gateway 2030, was developed in June 2012.[16] The Gateway 2030 plan outlines the process, major findings, and recommendations associated with the cost feasible phasing approach to the development of approximately 700 acres (280 ha) of airport property and the supporting City infrastructure critical to ensure its success" (IWA, 2012b). The plan will be implemented in 4 phases. With the completion of phase one, IWA will be able to accommodate 1.5 million enplanements (3 million passengers). Much of phase one will address much needed access and infrastructure for access to the new terminal. The addition will include access roads, parking, taxiways, aprons capable of Group III and IV aircraft, and the new 300,000 square feet (28,000 m2) pier concept terminal. The new terminal will have 14 gates, constructed in such a way to make room for 12 Group III aircraft and two Group IV aircraft.

Phase two has yet to be planned in detail, but will add another pier terminal to the main concourse, adding up to six gates, parking for 10,500 vehicles, and a 1,000 feet (300 m) extension of RW 12L/30R. Phase two will create the ability for IWA to handle 2.2 million enplanements. Phase three for the initial Gateway 2030 plan will add another pier terminal and second level to the main concourse and will create an additional eight gates, a new apron, more parking, and an additional taxiway.

Phase three will focus on privately owned retail, office, and hotel buildings that will be located on airport property. Phase three will allow IWA to accommodate 5 million enplanements.

Phase four will complete the 2030 plan, allowing IWA able to handle 10 million enplanements (20 million passengers) annually with a total of 60 gates and 21,000 vehicle parking spaces. Phase four will likely not be undertaken until 2030 or beyond, making cost estimates nearly impossible.

Due to the changing market, phase two, three, and four are likely to change. Gateway 2030 is estimated to cost more than $1.4 billion.

Historic landmarks[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d FAA Airport Master Record for IWA (Form 5010 PDF) effective August 17, 2017, AirportIQ 5010, GCR Inc.
  2. ^ "Airport Authority Approves City of Apache Junction Membership". By Brian Sexton(Primary). Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport Authority. 29 July 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  3. ^ National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems: 2007–2011, FAA, 2006-10-06
  4. ^ a b "Allegiant Air announces new base in Phoenix–Mesa", Press release, Allegiant Air, 2007-07-31, archived from the original on 2007-10-12
  5. ^ Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport Media Guide (PDF), Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport Authority, 2011-04-01
  6. ^ "The Southeast Valley Insider", The Arizona Republic, 2006-03-30
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-06-18. Retrieved 2015-06-17.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport May Get Dumped By Allegiant Air". KJZZ. 16 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Report".
  10. ^, The Washington Times. "Allegiant Air may depart Gateway airport for Sky Harbor".
  11. ^ "Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport to welcome first international flight". 19 January 2017.
  12. ^ "U.S. International Air Passenger and Freight Statistics Report". 13 August 2012.
  13. ^ "Where we fly", Swoop, 27 March 2019 Retrieved on 01 April 2019.
  14. ^ Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix – Mesa Gateway (AZA) Scheduled Services except Freight/Mail, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, United States Department of Transportation, 2013, retrieved February 17, 2017
  15. ^ "Airport Statistics". Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  16. ^ "Gateway 2030: A Vision for the Northeast Area Development" (PDF), Press release, Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport, 2012-06-30, archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-14

External links[edit]