Imagine flying into George Bush Intercontinental Airport late at night after a lengthy vacation or business trip. You’re tired and jet-lagged, and you want nothing more than to go home and rest. Would you rather spend another two hours driving home or fly directly into Victoria?
The ability to fly to and from Houston—and, by extension, the rest of the world—is just one of the benefits of having a local airport in our community. An airport is an economic engine, spurring new development and attracting commerce in a world where more people are traveling for business or pleasure. Victoria’s local government and business leaders understand the importance of working together to build up the airport, and this synergy is leading to some exciting changes.
Starting Nov. 10, SkyWest Airlines, branded as United Express, will begin flying out of the Victoria Regional Airport. The new service will use a 50-passenger jet plane with air conditioning, Wi-Fi and a flight attendant—a great improvement over the nine-passenger plane used by our previous service.
In addition, the United affiliation will allow residents to book United flights from Victoria to anywhere in the world. Residents who fly from Victoria will save money on airport parking and will avoid wear and tear on their vehicles, to say nothing of the time they will save by avoiding the long drive to and from Houston.
The improved air service will also be a major draw for big businesses looking to locate here. Many companies don’t allow their employees to travel for work on small charter-style planes like the ones we had previously, nor do they want their employees to have to drive for hours to get to an airport. When companies are choosing between thousands of cities, a nearby airport is a big plus.
With the support of local leaders, the airport is undertaking two different studies that will help us get more out of the property. The first is a runway study that will tell us the load-bearing capacity of our runway, which will let us know whether we can market to companies that use large aircraft and what steps we need to take to accommodate such aircraft. The second is a marketing study that will help us to understand the development potential of some of our unused land, putting us in a better position to market to developers.
More improvements could be in store if more residents use our air service. Airports that serve at least 10,000 passengers per year (known as “enplanements”) are eligible to receive $1 million in federal funding, much more than the $150,000 entitlement we currently receive.
Last year we were very close to reaching 6,000 enplanements, and with our improved service, I’m confident that 10,000 enplanements is an achievable goal for our community. By flying out of the Victoria Regional Airport, you can be a part of building a better future for our airport and our community.
All of these new developments as well as the buy-in from our local leaders give me hope that our airport will continue to grow beyond what anyone could have expected just a few years ago. The airport can only reach its full potential with the community’s support, and for that reason I hope Victoria residents will keep in mind the value of a thriving local airport—both for those who fly and for all of us who benefit from the resulting economic growth. If you want to learn more about what our airport brings to Victoria, I’d love to give you a tour sometime. Give me a call at 361-578-2704 or email me at email@example.com.
Vinicio “Lenny” Llerena is the executive director of the Victoria Regional Airport.
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