TEXARKANA, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – An airline with a direct flight to Houston may be on the way to Texarkana Regional Airport.
The facility just received a grant from the Department of Transportation for $884,722 to support new air service. Airport officials said they’ve been in talks with United Airlines about the move.
Director Paul Mehrlich said the money would be used for marketing, startup costs, revenue guarantee and fee waivers for service to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) on United Airlines. Mehrlich added that the airline provided a letter of support for the grant, with the intention to fly twice daily on a Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet-200 aircraft, flown by the United Express partner SkyWest Airlines.
“Houston, TX is a top destination for travelers within our market, so we are thrilled that this new nonstop service will provide more travel options to take our passengers where they want to go. We hope this will also help companies based in Houston to see Texarkana as a place to expand,” said Mehrlich. He said a daily flight to IAH will connect Texarkana to 135 destinations with a single stop, including 6 domestic routes and 13 international routes not previously served.
Mehrlich added that another airline would support economic development. “There are a lot of Fortune 500 companies that are down in the Houston area, and by having a direct flight here, we’re hoping that groups like TexAmericas and the REDI group will be able to reach out to companies down there and show them how they can expand in our area and grow bring jobs here.”
United Airlines could choose to come to Texarkana anytime within the next five years, and a new airport terminal is expected to be complete by Spring, 2024.
However, Mehrlich said it will be a little while before any flights would start. The aviation industry is still impacted from the effects of COVID-19, and there are pilot shortages. He said United Airlines will have up to five years to utilize the grant funds. This allows some time for the industry to stabilize and the airport to continue work on the new terminal. He said the airport will begin working with the airline over the next few weeks about next steps.