It required some investment, however American Airlines traveler planes are by and by nosing up to the jetways to land and take on travelers at Valley International Airport.
On Sunday, out of the blue since 2001, American continued passenger service to VIA, and will proceed with three day by day non-stop flights among Harlingen and Dallas-Fort Worth, or 21 traveler flights for every week.
“I want to thank everyone for taking time out of their busy schedules to come here, and to thank American Airlines for believing in us here in the Rio Grande Valley and in the City of Harlingen,” Marv Esterly, director of aviation at VIA, told officials at a dedication of the new passenger service Monday.
“Air service development is probably one of the hardest things we have to do here at Valley International Airport for our staff,” added Esterly, who has directed VIA operations for four years. “I just want to tell you it takes a professional and great staff to orchestrate an airline coming in, and I want to tell you that it takes a lot of partners, and without our partners we have in the Rio Grande Valley, we could never get this done.”
The expansion of American brings the number of airlines offering traveler service at VIA to six — American, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Sun Country Airlines and Frontier Airlines, which started service the previous fall.
American’s Harlingen flights will be made on Embraer ERJ-145s, a territorial stream that can convey 50 travelers.
American’s entry additionally agrees with the zenith of a long and costly redesign effort at VIA, which cost $12 million and took six years.
Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell referenced the sensational update of the terminal, including new terrazzo tile deck, lighting and new roof panels overhead.
“You just look around — it feels like a whole new different place, it looks like a different place,” he said, “because now it has American Airlines to round out all of our air service here at Valley International Airport. It’s a great day to be here.”
South Padre Island’s visitor industry and Mayor Dennis Stahl were key players in exchanges to bring American back. The airport operates a bus service between Harlingen and the Island.
“This flight today celebrates the growing interest in Texas tourism,” Stahl said. “Valley International Airport and our city, South Padre Island, have had a longstanding partnership in destination development, and we’re ecstatic to be taking this step forward, spreading the word about Texas’ best beach.”
Both American and Frontier were pulled in to the Harlingen airport with another $1.55 million impetus program called the Air Service Development Program presented by Harlingen authorities toward the end of last year. American will get an impetus installment of $834,000 to fly into Valley International under the program.
In any case, there are as of now signs that the speculation into the new air traveler carriers is paying off. Valley International posted a 12.5 percent expansion in traveler enplanements in 2018, and in January, recorded numbers which were 19.4 percent higher than a year prior.
Dale Morris, senior consultant/governmental affairs for American, said it was a “long journey” to reach agreement on American’s return.
“It speaks to the fact that the respect that American Airlines had for Marv — having worked with him at other airports and the way he is so fiscally responsible, the way he runs an airport, his fairness, and a lot of those factors come into play,” Morris told the crowd. “Because nowadays, there is a shortage of airplanes and pilots, and we just can’t put airplanes anywhere.”