CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Passengers flying out of Corpus Christi International Airport have continued to raise concerns over the lack of direct flights to larger cities. It’s also been a topic of conversation for airport officials as they work to gain partnerships with other major airlines.
However, they emphasized there's detailed work that comes along with this transformation.
As CCIA encourages more people to fly locally, many travelers hope their effort to do so will also come with affordable prices.
Kevin Smith, the City of Corpus Christi Director of Aviation said the airport has been neglected for many years and there is much room for improvement.
Data showed that at least 68% of travelers choose to drive to San Antonio, Dallas and Houston for better flight options. But CCIA wants people to choose them instead.
As the airport works to bring more major airlines to Corpus Christi, Smith said that in order to so, there needs to be consistent proof that money will be made and the airlines will profit.
“We started with an air service task force, who is out there talking to businesses, helping us raise what’s called a minimum revenue guarantee," Smith said. "That’s something the airlines look for when they decide to start a new route, so they know will be profitable one way or another.”
Passengers at CCIA said the change would make their lives easier for several reasons.
“I live right here," passenger Catherine Minderman said."I only live a few minutes from the airport, instead of having to drive two and a half hours to San Antonio. It's just a pain to go the extra mile."
Another passenger, Elizabeth Ondike, said she travels internationally on a consistent basis.
However, in order to do that, she's had to drive several hours to other cities. With some of the flights leaving early in the morning, she emphasized that having better options in the Corpus Christi area would be a better option rather than taking a two hour drive before a 10 hour flight.
Smith also said that there are other factors slowing down the addition to flights. One of them stems from the pandemic, which has caused many airlines to experience operation delays and pilot shortages.
“I think a lot of it is timing," Smith said. "Some airlines are leasing planes. We just got a report last week that there’s still 500 planes parked in the desert because there’s not enough pilots to fly the aircraft.”
CCIAS is also considering airlines that offer flights to other Texas cities including Austin, Brownsville and Laredo.
With more than 710,000 passengers a year, the hope is to increase that number to nearly two million. By doing that, it will get the FAA's attention for more funding towards airline partnerships.
The biggest take away is that CCIA wants to accommodate passengers, but it may take some time before something officially happens. Smith said he hopes to announce a new partnership by the end of the year.
For now, the biggest suggestion that CCIA offers passengers is to fly locally as much as they can, so the airport's profits can show other major companies that CCIA is worth the investment.