ABILENE, TX. (KTAB/KRBC)- This week Abilene Regional Airport accepted a one-million-dollar national grant, with hopes of using the money to attract a new airline to the Key City. The airport has been working on providing new destinations for the people of the Big Country for years, and city officials say this grant has the potential to not only bring in a new airline and sustain it, but stimulate the Big Country’s economy as well.
“While other airlines, all the other airlines are sort of looking at how they’re going to reinvent themselves coming out of this, we think it’s a good time to pounce,” said Marketing and Business Development Manager for Abilene Regional Airport Kate Alvarez.
City manager Robert Hanna says, receiving this grant from the Department of Transportation is a great opportunity for the Key City in more ways than one.
“From an efficiency standpoint, going east just to go south doesn’t make the most sense in the world, and it creates a relatively short flight into a longer one. I think that they would find value in flying a direct flight to Denver or Houston,” said Hanna.
According to a 2019 leakage study, out of over 300,000 people in the surrounding area, 74% of those people are not using Abilene Regional Airport. Kate Alvarez says this grant gives Abilene a better chance to land a new airline.
“Tells an airline that there is a way to make some revenue here. They’re making it somewhere else, so let’s bring it home, let’s bring it into Abilene, let’s keep it here,” said Alvarez.
City officials say bringing in a new airline has the power to stimulate business in Abilene, and attract new ones.
“We’re going to be able to be more competitive in attracting and retaining a workforce because we have more flight options,” said Hanna.
“It’s giving an opportunity of just creating that economic domino effect,” said Alvarez.
Abilene has tried adding a second airline in the past, but the city was not able to sustain it. Kate Alvarez says this time is different.
“Our community has been asking for a second airline and a second destination for long, we know that they’re going to be ready to buy these airplane tickets and sustain us,” said Alvarez.
Abilene Regional Airport is the only airport in the state of Texas to receive this grant, and the city has up to two-years to use it.