Victoria County to study air service

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

July 22, 2013 at 2:22 a.m.
Updated July 23, 2013 at 2:23 a.m.

With more than a year remaining on the federal subsidy contract with Sun Air International, Victoria County Commissioners are planning how to market the community to attract a new airline.

The court approved a $39,500 agreement Monday with Seabury Airline Planning for a study of Victoria's flying future.

County Judge Don Pozzi said the need came up from problems with Sun Air, including the size of planes, problems with luggage and ground problems at the Houston airport. Pozzi also said he wants to look at flights to other destinations and perhaps a flight from Victoria to Dallas.

"In addition to giving us the necessary information, we hope in time it will be a valuable marketing tool," Pozzi said.

Victoria City Council has given a verbal commitment to cover 30 percent of the study's cost. The county will pay for the remainder.

At a previous City Council meeting, Victoria Economic Development Director Dale Fowler said he hopes the study shows Victoria's market can sustain a "more viable, more substantial air service."

Seabury will look at the county's economic and demographic trends; travel patterns, including passenger volumes and fares; travelers' current drive times and desired airline amenities; Victoria Regional Airport's current infrastructure; annual cost to provide service to Victoria and air service incentives.

Commissioner Clint Ives said the study will be a recruitment tool.

"Hopefully, we can bring a major airline into Victoria County again," he said.

Victoria lost its major air carrier through Colgan Air, a subsidiary of Continental Airlines, when Continental merged with United Airlines.

Colgan started flying to and from Victoria in June 2005 and took its last flight in June 2012.

At this point, the only way Victoria can provide commercial air service is through a federal Essential Air Service contract, Ives said.

The study is expected to be complete in eight weeks.



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