By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
February 26, 2015
The Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport (BRO) announced this week the addition of a new airline to its list of providers. Allegiant Airlines will begin offering direct flights from the airport to Las Vegas beginning in June.
It’s an addition that was three to four years in the making, according to Director of Aviation Larry A. Brown. “We believe it’s going to be a significant success,” he said. “Through a series of meetings, presentation of the business parameters and the business plan to them (Allegiant Airlines), as well as their interest in potential expansion … we managed to become part of what is obviously a growing airline,” he said.
Allegiant now offers services at two of the Valley’s three largest international airports. In 2005, Allegiant partnered with McAllen Miller International Airport to begin offering direct flights to Las Vegas, as well. “I think it’s important to understand where the populations are in the Valley. Obviously, there are significant populations in both Brownsville and Matamoros,” Brown said. The proximity of McAllen and Reynosa to each other creates a similar population hub in the Upper Valley, he said. “Those are the two population centers in the Valley and that is where the majority of the market is,” he said, while discussing why Allegiant chose to partner with BRO.
The airport is also on the cusp of completing a large renovation project which was undertaken to improve the character of the airport. “We’re spending about $9 million right now (on renovations) that are a combination of taxiways as well as ramp improvements. And that is to replace concrete and rebuild … our primary taxiway going from the main runway to the passenger terminal and back out again,” Brown said. The project, which is in its final phase, was funded by both FAA grants as well as monies from the City of Brownsville, he said.
Future renovation plans include the construction of a new passenger terminal. And like other entities across lower Cameron County that are preparing for the completion of SpaceX facilities, BRO, too, is making plans to accommodate the space-faring company. “Over a period of the next five to six years, (we’re) looking to build an extended runway to the airport to help satisfy the market demand that SpaceX is going to have for bringing in additional payloads to be launched on rockets by SpaceX,” Brown said.
Currently, the airport serves approximately 100,000 outbound passengers, and “just a little more than double that flying in,” every year, according to Brown. Along with passenger travel, the airport also offers services in general aviation, cargo operation, a foreign trade zone, and government air traffic. It also serves as an international port of entry staffed by Customs agents 24 hours a day, Brown said.
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