Kids and adults toured a new airplane Wednesday as Boutique Air hosted a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Cortez Municipal Airport.
Boutique Air CEO Shawn Simpson introduced the company to about 100 spectators, which included about 50 students from Kemper Elementary School. They also watched a Boutique Air plane land just after 1 p.m. The airline started direct flights to Denver and Phoenix from Cortez on Oct. 1.
Simpson said the company started in 2009 with the goal of providing higher-quality air service. The company didn’t own a single plane back then, but since has grown to acquire 18 aircraft, employ 100 pilots and serve 25 cities, he said.
“We’re happy to be here,” Simpson said. “We’ve grown a lot.”
About 440 people have traveled on Boutique Air flights to or from Cortez since Boutique Air service started, he said.
The company is serving Cortez with eight-seat Pilatus PC-12 aircraft. The plane landed and spectators got an up-close look at the PC-12. It’s smaller than the 19-seat planes that have served the airport in the past, but Simpson praised the cozy craft.
“It’s smaller, but it’s better,” he said.
The seats swivel and recline on the plane, and the PC-12 has a very reliable engine, Simpson said. Boutique Air has made about 25,000 flights and has never had an injury or fatality, he said. The company is committed to keeping that safety record intact, he said.
Mayor Karen Sheek also spoke at the ceremony, thanking the large group of people who came to the event. Earlier this year, City councilors endorsed Boutique Air’s bid to serve Cortez over Great Lakes Airlines, which had served the city for decades.
“The city is really pleased that Boutique Air is here,” Sheek said.