by Thu Pham / 7 minutes read

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

The biggest and busiest airport in the US state of Arizona is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. In comparison to other US hubs, the name of this city, which serves as an American Airlines hub and a target location for JSX and Southwest, seems a little out of the ordinary. But where did the name "Sky Harbor" come from? Today Office Helps will help you to widen your knowledge about the history and functions of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

The History of “Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has existed for almost a century. The building, whose construction started in 1928, was a creation of the late 1920s. The first airport in Phoenix was finished in early 1929, making it the city's fourth airport. On February 23rd, 1929, commercial services were offered there.

According to the airport's website, it had the moniker "the farm" in its early years due to its "isolated rural position" at the time. Even before the City of Phoenix acquired the airport in July 1935, it was known as "Sky Harbor" in terms of its official name. 

Owner of Scenic Airways J Parker Van Zandt, who relocated his business to Phoenix in 1928, is credited with creating "Sky Harbor," according to AZ Central. Added by historian Michael Jones:

"Whether the name came from a desire by Scenic to name all its airports Sky Harbor, or by the idea of a 'harbor' for aircraft, no one knows for sure."

The History of “Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport”
The History of “Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport”

There are comparable terms in other languages

It's unusual to hear an airport referred to as a "Sky Harbor" in English. However, the literal translation of the word "airport" does convey a comparable meaning in other parts of the world. The following phrases, which translate to "air harbor," are frequently used in Germanic and Scandinavian languages in central and northern Europe.

  • Danish, Norwegian - Lufthavn
  • Dutch - Luchthaven
  • German - Lufthafen

This may come as a surprise because, on the surface, ports and harbors seem to be quite comparable ideas. According to World Atlas, a port is a commercial area on a seashore with docks, warehouses, and other facilities to facilitate trade and transportation. A port, it adds, is a location on the beach that provides space for parking or storing watercraft.

There are comparable terms in other languages
There are comparable terms in other languages

Facilities of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

1. Terminals:

In two Terminals at the Phoenix airport, there are 117 active aircraft gates (3 and 4). The terminal numbers for the other terminals were not changed because passengers were already accustomed to them, according to the airport management, which claims that Terminals 1 and 2 have been "retired." 

After Terminal 2 was closed, Terminals 3 and 4 kept their present numbers. On the Terminal 2 property, bus gates will be used. Terminal 4 handles all international arrivals without border pre-clearance.

In today's Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, there are 25 gates in Terminal 3 and 92 gates in Terminal 4.


2. Runways:

3,400 acres (1,400 ha) or 1,135 feet of elevation make up Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (346 m). Three parallel concrete/grooved runways are present at the airport:

  • Runway 8/26 measures 11,489 feet by 150 feet (3,502 meters by 46 meters).
  • Runway 7L/25R is 10,300 feet long by 150 feet (3,139 meters by 46 meters).
  • 7,800 feet x 150 ft (2,377 m x 46 m) is the length of runway 7R/25L.

Aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 900,000 lb (410,000 kg) or more can use any of the three runways.


3. ATC Tower:

On January 14, 2007, the airport's current 326-foot-tall (99 m) air traffic control tower started operating. In addition to housing the Phoenix TRACON, it is located just east of the Terminal 3 parking garage. This fourth control tower, one of the tallest in North America, is located at Sky Harbor.

ATC Tower
ATC Tower

Ground Transportation

Visitors can access both terminals from the East Economy Parking using the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) Sky Train. Each terminal is also surrounded by terminal parking. Until the PHX Sky Train project is finished, the airport will continue to offer shuttle bus service between the terminals and the rental car facility, with distinct routes serving each terminal.

West of Terminal 3 is the Airport's Operations facility, where Valley Metro bus route 13 has a stop. Use the Valley Metro route 13 bus to go to or from the Greyhound station. Light rail riders can access the nearby PHX Sky Train station, the East Economy Parking Lot, and Terminal 3 and 4 stations via a moving pedestrian bridge that spans Washington Street. The 44th Street and Washington PHX Sky Train station is serviced by Valley Metro bus routes 44.

Ground Transportation
Ground Transportation

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Today

Currently, Phoenix Sky Harbor serves an important function as Arizona's largest and busiest airport. It is one of the ten hubs on the US mainland for American Airlines and features three concrete-paved runways. The effects of the coronavirus led to a more than 50% decrease in passenger volume in 2020. Regardless, the 22 million passengers it carried last year still reflect a respectable performance.

Even though Phoenix is simply a focal city rather than a hub, it's interesting to note that Southwest Airlines had a little bigger market share than American Airlines there last year. In comparison to America, which served just over 32% of Sky Harbor's passengers, it served close to 36%. Nevertheless, it eclipsed pre-pandemic levels this summer and was one of the USA's fastest-growing airports.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Today
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Today

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Interesting Facts

The daily economic impact of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is $106 million.

On a regular day:

  • Over 1,200 planes arrive and depart daily.
  • More than 125,000 people enter and leave.
  • More than a thousand tons of flying freight are processed.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Interesting Facts
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Interesting Facts

Begin your own journey at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport!

With the valuable information, Office Helps provides you with above, now you can have a good range of knowledge about Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport about all the routes to each suitable terminal, as well as the history of one of the largest and busiest airports in the US state of Arizona. So don’t hesitate any longer and let’s start your journey there!

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What do you think of the name "Sky Harbor" for the Phoenix International Airport? Have you ever taken a flight to or from the busiest airport in Arizona? Tell your ideas and experiences, we’re always willing to hear it!

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Written by

Thu Pham

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Though my main major is Economic law, I have an interest in writing. Doing this job not only helps me to fulfill my writing hobby in my free time but also provides useful knowledge for my field of study. Besides, I usually spend my free time hanging out with friends to cheer myself up and make good memories in life.

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