SAN ANGELO, Texas – After years of pursuit, a direct flight has been secured between San Angelo Regional Airport – Mathis Field (SJT) and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston (IAH). The new flights will be available through United Airlines, operated by SkyWest Airlines, Inc., and will hold up to 50 passengers. Services are expected to begin this April. Each of the United Express flights will be onboard the 50-passenger CRJ200.
“There are many people who don’t want to have to fly to Dallas to get to Houston and some other markets,” said Brenda Gunter, mayor of San Angelo. “Many of our citizens were going to other markets to fly out of – we want to stop that. We need our airport to be successful; we want the planes to be full.”
Currently, SJT’s sole direct connection is to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport through American Airlines.
Increasing transportation options has been the crux of Mayor Gunter’s strategy to improve the local economy. San Angelo’s continual growth, along with our general market, business community and tourism industry made our airport appealing to the new airline. Looking at all these aspects, Gunter said it made financial sense for both the City and SkyWest to bring the new United Express service to San Angelo.
Emphasizing the airport’s economic importance, Airport Director Jeremy Valgardson referenced a popular industry quote, “A mile of road out there will get you a mile out in the community. A mile of runway will get you anywhere in the world. And that means that we can really open up our community for business development. We now have more flight options to be able to get people in to use our one mile of asphalt that will take you anywhere in the world.”
According to an economic development study in 2018 by the Texas Department of Transportation, SJT has generated around $124 million in the community and provided more than 1,200 jobs.
The contract period with SkyWest will last two years. SkyWest requested terms of a $1-million revenue guarantee, $200,000 in marketing and advertising assistance and a waiver of rental and landing fees for the length of the contract. All conditions will help offset the airline’s startup cost of entering a new market.
Funds will come from the City of San Angelo Development Corporation (COSADC). At the end of January, SJT will apply for a grant with the Small Community Air Services Development Program. If accepted, the grant funds will be used to reimburse COSADC.
“Make sure that when we have this flight available that we support it,” Mayor Gunter said. “That’s the number one challenge that we have. The citizens and the business community have constantly said we need a flight to Houston … well now’s your opportunity. Let’s show the airline that we support and we back them.”
SkyWest is headquartered in St. George, Utah, and operates flights to hundreds of destinations around North America. They partner with the world’s largest network carriers including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, and specialize in connecting small and medium markets with the national transportation system.
Courtesy: City of San Angelo