Is It Possible to Actually Buy an Airport? You May be Surprised!

Just a Few Hundred Feet from The Mexican Border

AZ – It is possible; one is reportedly still on the market in Arizona. Douglas Municipal Airport (DGL) is an international airport situated just a few miles from the City of Douglas in Cochise County, Arizona. With the end of runway 21 just a few hundred feet from the Mexican border, the airport sits on approximately 640 acres of public-use land. This aerodrome is unique because it is indeed noted as Arizona’s first international airport.

Aligned With the Magnetic Compass

If you have ever toyed with the idea of owning a public-use airport and have several million dollars to spare, it is completely possible. Douglas Municipal Airport (DGL) has two intersecting runways aligned with the magnetic compass as 03/21 and 18/36. For those unfamiliar with airport jargon, the runway number is converted to a magnetic heading by adding one or two zeros. For example, runway 18 converted to a magnetic heading becomes 180 degrees.

Functional and Capable

One intersecting runway aligned as 03/21 is paved asphalt, while the other runway aligned as 18/36 has a compacted dirt surface. Runway 03/21 is 5,760 feet in length or just over a mile long. This is plenty of distance for a typical mid-sized business jet to use for landings. The other runway, which is a dirt surface, is just over 4,000 feet long. Both runways have easy taxiway access to a paved apron for aircraft movement and parking. While it may not be a busy airport, it is nonetheless a fully functional and capable US international airport.

The Old Border Crossing Gate

The airport traces its beginnings all the way back to 1928, when it was first built. Another element of this airport’s uniqueness is that it can serve both the United States and Mexico. One interesting fact about this airport is that there was a time when you could land at Douglas Municipal Airport (DGL) and then simply taxi several hundred feet right into Mexico. While this is no longer possible, it is a great conversation starter. There are remnants of the old border crossing gate for those willing to search the area.

Arizona is Known for its Harsh Climate

Yet another notable fact about the airport is that it served as a staging ground for the first Transcontinental US women’s air races and even enjoyed convenient routine airline service throughout most of the 1930s. This is a unique airport, but keep in mind that it is a rough and rugged place for an airport, to say the least. Arizona is known for its harsh climate, where summer temperatures can easily soar to above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The surrounding terrain is just as rough, unforgiving, and rugged.

Arrivals and Departures

The Douglas Airport has a proud history, but its “hay days” have clearly come and gone. With only a few dozen aircraft arrivals and departures yearly, there is little fanfare these days. It is still a useful infrastructure that serves some key vital operational functions. For example, it is sometimes used for medevac purposes, whenever a local medical emergency arises. Yet, as with most things today, it often comes back to finances, and with this old-time airport not generating any appreciable revenue at present, its usefulness comes into question.

Luxury Airpark-Style Housing

That is why this Arizona airport was placed on the chopping block a few years ago by being put up for sale. City authorities have been eager to sever ties with the property for a few years. City officials have formally welcomed bids on the facility and have advised potential investors that applications offering airpark-style homesites and aircraft hangarage would be given the highest priority. As a note of caution, the airfield requires substantial upgrades, renovation, and repairs.

Public Use Airport

It’s estimated that major renovation work would cost seven to eight million dollars. For anyone entertaining the idea of buying an airport, remember that one stipulation of the purchase is that the facility remains a public-use airport. And there is more. The new owner would be required to repay Federal grants totaling nearly ½ million dollars. This results from the expenses incurred by the Arizona Department of Transportation over the years in maintaining the property.

A Unique Fly-In Airport Community

On the plus side, the airport was under review in 2017 for its best-use potential. An Airport Strategic Business Plan determined that adding new aircraft hangars and leasing land could eventually generate good operating revenue. While very few bids have been tendered since the airport was offered for sale, one prospective buyer did show interest in developing the airport into a unique fly-in airpark community. The deal never saw the light of day as local residents’ opposition to the idea was swift and vocal.

About The City of Douglas in Cochise County, Arizona

Bordering Mexico in the southeastern corner of Arizona, the City of Douglas in Cochise County boasts a rich history, culture, and natural beauty that is unique to the American Southwest. Established around the turn of the century in 1901, Douglas quickly became a vital hub of commerce and trade, thanks to early growth in the development of nearby copper mines. Today, the mining industry remains a significant economic force in the region.

An Artistic and Culinary Predisposition

At the core of Douglas is its historic and welcoming downtown, where century-old buildings represent the region’s storied past. Visitors often stroll along G Avenue, dotted with quaint shops, popular cafes, and eclectic art galleries, reveling the town’s artistic and culinary predisposition. The Douglas Historic District, with its well-preserved and seemingly untouched architecture, invites curious exploration, with landmarks like the Gadsden Hotel offering a reminder of the city’s elegant past.

Towering Rock Formations

Beyond its urban center, Douglas is flanked by the jaw-dropping landscapes of Cochise County. Outdoor adventurists converge on nearby attractions such as the Chiricahua Mountains, admired for their towering rock formations and rugged yet scenic hiking trails. Birdwatchers enjoy the diversity of the unique species found in the region. At the same time, those who indulge in desert history often explore sites like the famously world-renowned town of Tombstone, found just a short drive away.

Delectable Local Cuisine

Cultural diversity is obvious in every segment of life in Douglas, resulting from its proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border. Annual festivals and events routinely celebrate this remarkable heritage, bringing traditional music, dance, and delectable local cuisine to the forefront from both sides of the border. Sampling “real” Mexican dishes at unassuming local eateries or exploring busy markets where vendors make available a variety of artisanal crafts and goods is always fun and interesting.

Economic Revitalization Projects

Despite all these wonderful offerings, Douglas has the usual challenges typical of many small American communities. Recent economic revitalization projects strive to stimulate the local economy and attract new businesses, while community initiatives encourage the preservation of the city’s unique heritage for future generations.

Bids and Offers

So, if you have several million in cash to spare, here is a unique opportunity to own an entire airport. At this time, airport officials are still taking bids and offers. One note of caution, however, is that doing full and comprehensive due diligence is not only a good idea but essential for such a bold and risky high-priced investment. Caveat Emptor – Let the buyer beware!

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