New Mexico lawmakers, governor and mayor announce hot air balloon rides in Albuquerque can resume citywide

U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury

From the office of U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury:

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (NM) and Ben Ray Luján (NM), and Mayor Tim Keller announced that hot air balloons from Albuquerque will soon be able to resume flights over the city’s Class C airspace following a new decision from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA’s decision follows the lawmakers February request to adjust a general aircraft requirement that effectively prohibited balloon flights over the more heavily restricted airspace of the city of Albuquerque by requiring balloons to carry tracking devices incompatible with the balloons design.

The policy announced today establishes a process by which hot air balloon pilots can fly over airspace after signing a Letter of Understanding (LOA) with the FAA. The LOA will be in place for a full year while a security risk management committee analyzes the best long-term way forward.

“It’s huge for New Mexico. Albuquerque is the hot air balloon capital of the world. Balloon Fiesta and year-round hot air ballooning is a vital part of Albuquerque’s cultural fabric and economy,” Rep. Stansbury said. “After learning that a new FAA rule could threaten this iconic industry, we have worked to resolve this issue. I am grateful to the FAA for working to find a meaningful solution and to the hot air balloon community for supporting it. has brought to our attention and which, every day, continues the magic of hot air ballooning in New Mexico!”

“The economic and cultural importance of New Mexico’s rightful reputation as the ballooning capital of the world cannot be overstated,” Governor Lujan Grisham said. “I appreciate the FAA’s work in identifying a solution, recognizing that the Albuquerque ballooning community has operated with a dedication to safety for more than fifty years. New Mexico officials from local, state, and federal government have worked together to advocate for a solution – and the real winners are the thousands of visitors to New Mexico and the Balloon Fiesta each year.

“Albuquerque’s unique wind patterns have made hot air ballooning iconic and essential to the industry and our tourism economy. This fight was critical to reopening airspace over Albuquerque. I was proud to work with our delegation to win this fight,” said Senator Heinrich.

“Hot air balloons are an important part of New Mexico’s culture and economy, as demonstrated by the annual Balloon Fiesta,” said Senator Luján, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “I’m glad this industry continues to bring people together in New Mexico. It is critical that the FAA provide clarification to hot air balloon professionals and enthusiasts, as their community makes a significant contribution to our state’s economy.

“When it comes to hot air ballooning and Albuquerque traditions, we stand up for our city,” Mayor Tim Keller said. “We are grateful for the FAA’s work in finding a way forward with us. Today our pilots are cleared to take off and we are ready to celebrate half a century of Balloon Fiesta as planned.

“We recognize the important role hot air ballooning plays in New Mexico culture,” said FAA Regional Administrator Rob Lowe. “The FAA has reached an agreement that allows balloon pilots to continue to fly safely in the region while we work on a long-term solution.”