ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Every year the Department of Transportation gives grants to airports in highly-competitive markets looking to add new air services or improve the services they already provide.
“Once air travel started to diminish, airlines got into survival mode, and they are still in survival mode,” said Abilene Director of Transportation Services Don Green.
In February, Abilene Regional Airport received a $1 million grant to help recruit new airlines to Abilene, but COVID-19 has made talks with these airlines more complicated.
“They are not looking to expand to new markets at this time. They’re really trying to go back and reconfigure and save the market they were in prior to February,” said Green.
Increasing the number of airlines flying through Abilene would create more convenient travel options, as well as develop new relationships with businesses outside the Big Country.
“Better opportunity for new businesses to come in, to locate offices here where otherwise they wouldn’t if they said, oh we only has service to DFW, and I might have to take two flights back, or three flights back,” said Green.
Director Green says the process of bringing in a new airline can take years to complete, and when negotiations resume the grant will go a long way in getting a deal done.
“The grant helps us offset some of that cost and airline to offset some of the cost, to come into a new market,” said Green.
With COVID-19 seemingly putting the world on pause, the Big Country will have to wait a little longer before they can fly to new destinations from Abilene Regional Airport.
“Hoping that within a few months maybe they’ll be in a position where they can get back to a little more serious discussion on coming into Abilene,” said Green.
Due to COVID-19, Abilene Regional Airport is currently running a reduced schedule, with only three departures and three arrivals daily.
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