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Victoria Regional Airport To Lose Carrier

Victoria Regional Airport

Victoria is a growing city. There’s no doubt about it. But our geographical location crys out for a functioning ‘regional’ airport. That’s why the fact that we are losing our carrier is bad news, indeed.

Peter McNally, the program director for the Victoria Business and Education Coalition, had plans to fly out of Victoria Regional Airport, which learned last week its air service, Colgan Air Inc., would end June 30. The company filed for bankruptcy in February. McNally’s flight was for July 1. “Now, I’ve got to make arrangements to go to George Bush Intercontinental Airport,” McNally told the Victoria Advocate.

Jason Milewski, airport manager, talked specifics at Tuesday morning’s Victoria Economic Development Corp. partnership meeting. Milewski appeared frustrated over the circumstance, yet, a hint of hopefulness in his tone remained. “This update is not one of those positive things,” he told the crowd. Those at the meeting learned the Crossroads is not the problem when it comes to securing an air service. An air service study showed about 300,000 people in the Crossroads fly annually, but what’s more worrisome is that Victoria Regional catches only 3 percent of those flyers, Milewski said.

Business travelers, who make up anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of Victoria Regional flyers, will take a large hit when Victoria Regional loses the air service, Milewski said.

The reason airlines are not latching onto Victoria Regional is because it is an essential air service airport, a federal program that subsidizes smaller airports. Being in the program is nothing to be proud of, Milewski said. The program is only there to help smaller airports reach the next step.

Major airliners typically do not look to smaller airports, Instead, smaller carriers serve those markets. When a bigger airliner, like Pinnacle Airlines Corp., gets on board, the prices rise significantly and the number of flights is limited.

Right now, only two flights are made from Victoria Regional and it costs two to three times more to travel from Victoria than from Houston. This is all the more reason Milewski is pushing to find an air service fast. “We’re going to go dark for a while,” Milewski said. “This can go on almost indefinitely.”

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