Victoria airport may change schedule in effort to drive up usage


Nov. 15, 2011 at 5:15 a.m.

Jason Milewski

Jason Milewski

Commercial flight times for Victoria Regional Airport may change.

Airport Manager Jason Milewski spoke Tuesday about the possible schedule shift to a packed house at the Victoria Economic Development Corp's Victoria Partnership meeting.

Airport management is considering replacing the early-morning flight and 10 p.m. arrival in exchange for a schedule that better suits businesspeople visiting Victoria, Milewski said.

The proposed schedule would include a 10 a.m. arrival and 10:30 a.m. departure. The airport would continue to have a 4:20 p.m. arrival and 4:45 p.m. departure.

The change is being considered because the number of people flying continues to decrease, he said.

Victoria is the last Texas airport to remain part of the Essential Air Service program, a federal subsidy that goes to airlines that serve small communities, Milewski said. The airline cannot rely on the subsidy forever, he said, noting those funds might soon run be cut.

He urged residents to contact the airport regarding their schedule preferences. Even if the proposed schedules don't pan out, he said, the airport can revert back to its current flights.

The airport once included a schedule similar to the proposed one, Milewski said, noting it lost about 200 passengers a month when the third daily flight was taken away.

Enplanements recently picked up by about 60 people per month after a recent fare decrease, he said, which makes a difference for an airport that sees an average 300 to 500 enplanements a month.

The airport suffers from a 95 percent leakage rate, he added, explaining that most of those flying in and out of the Crossroads use other airports.

Something must be done, Milewski said.

"We cannot continue to offer the same thing, unchanged, and hope people are going to start flying again," he said. "It's not going to happen."

Janice Scott, a Victoria lawyer who attended the meeting, admitted the proposed plan was a shift in focus, but said she applauded the airport for being proactive.

Scott said she believed the airport would receive criticism from current passengers, but said she hoped to see management stand its ground and continue forward with plans it believes will help down the road.

Airline schedules remain an issue, said Randy Vivian, president and CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

He said he works with many business travelers making their way to and from the region, and the proposed schedules would help them make their way in and out in one day. Vivian said he was glad to see the airport working to find solutions before the subsidy ran out.

"If not, we could lose air service in Victoria," he said. "We don't want that."



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