3 thoughts on “Mayor Taylor, Judge Wolff to Commission Airport Task Force

  1. Unfortunately, few people live south of San Antonio. Many Corpus Christi (only 317,000 enplanements at their airport to try to get), Eagle Pass (no airport), Laredo (only 110,000 enplanements at their airport), and Victoria (3000 enplanements at their airport) residents already drive here or to Austin or Houston for flights. The Valley would still be 4 hours away even with a southside airport, and all three of their airports together only had 742,000 enplanements last year. (San Antonio had 4,000,000 and Austin had 4,900,000.) “Enplanements means outgoing passengers.) Most residents in San Antonio with enough money to fly regularly live on the north side and would just start flying out of Austin if they had to drive south of the city. So a new stand-alone airport south of the city would just make things worse. San Antonio is going to have to ride this out–keeping our airport as nice as possible. There are LOTS OF PROBLEMS there still unresolved by new management–VERY BAD signage, a shuttle operator who keeps going bankrupt and stiffing the airport on a regular basis without being sent packing, too few luggage carousels, inadequate advance notice related to luggage carousels, too many carousels shooting out luggage with no public announcement and with no notice being posted on the overhead sign at the carousel causing confusion, rental car locations that passengers have difficulty finding when returning cars, rental car counters that are unmanned after 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. and that have signs that only say go to the curb without saying which curb or which door to use, no administration working at nights or on weekends to deal with regular problems as they occur and interrupt passengers’ experiences, a total mess out front at arrivals for picking up passengers, etc. I would LOVE to give a tour to some of these so-called city leaders to point out the mess that our airport has.

  2. Simply to consider: I recently took Megabus from downtown San Antonio to catch a discount and direct flight to Oakland/Berkeley from Dallas Love – which took roughly six enjoyable and productive hours in total (free wifi, electric outlets and I even had a row on the bus to myself) and less than $15 to get to my Dallas Love gate using San Antonio VIA, Megabus and Dallas DART.

    The local transit-regional bus option saved me the headache as well as the cost and time loss not only of airport driving and parking but of a flight with a transfer; I also got to spend time and money in the fabulously renovated Dallas Love airport which has great integration with DART shuttle bus to light rail (and plans now for direct light rail). I figure I came out about even in time (particularly ‘quality time’) with any flight originating in San Antonio and with several hundred dollars in savings – plus a nice meal and gelato at Dallas Love.

    Regardless, I noted that many of the passengers – young and older – who boarded my Megabus in Austin headed with me to the downtown light rail station for journeys to Dallas airports.

    Questions of the feasibility, location and time frame (years to a decade) of a new San Antonio airport aside, San Antonio Airport could compete with especially Austin but also Houston and Dallas (as well as flights originating in Laredo and McAllen) right now with better integration between our downtown regional buses and the airport.

    It could be though a stop for regional buses (Greyhound, Megabus, Omnibus etc) directly at San Antonio airport – as offered in Mexico City, Atlanta, Miami and other cities – as well as improvements to VIA’s airport bus line (the 5 / 30) and connections between the airport and North Star Transit Hub.

    Missing from the discussion above and in other San Antonio airport discussions that I have read is talk about young adult and car-free travelers (international or otherwise), a large segment of the flying and touring population and where San Antonio could be excelling. The full flights that I have been on to San Antonio have included large groups of car-free Air Force recruits and other young adult groups, and San Antonio has more university students than Austin.

    The idea of driving from San Antonio’s northern suburbs and exurbs to Austin’s airport is a very limited view of who currently uses and potentially could be a customer at San Antonio airport. For example a trip to San Antonio’s airport for a UT Austin student by Megabus could be comparable to the time it currently takes a UT student to reach Austin airport by local bus (and much more pleasant) – particularly if San Antonio could deliver good and cost-effective integration with our airport.

    As Dansk Tex below points out, there is also a large population of Texans south of San Antonio (greater than the population of Ireland) who already invest in several hours of ground travel to airports in Texas to improve their options and for whom better regional and local bus integration in San Antonio could be very appealing. Particularly in terms of regional and local bus integration, minor but ‘big’ customer experience issues could be addressed quickly and cost-effectively to make San Antonio a more compelling choice for customers and airline hub activity.

    http://nowcastsa.com/blogs/opinion-sa-public-transportation-and-vias-airport-routes

  3. I travel for pleasure a lot and SA’s airport offers some amenities for free that you have to pay for or can’t get at other airports. The service isn’t great at our airport but it’s no worse than in bigger airports. What I have noticed as a big difference is the lack of area residents who travel by air for non-business reasons. And we may have a big tourism industry but I meet a lot of those people visiting and I’m still surprised how many are making road trips here instead of flying in. What it boils down to is that our city doesn’t provide airlines many reasons to provide more non-stop flights. We aren’t producing customers. I’ve met way too many residents who think traveling means going to the other side of town or a day trip to a neighboring county. That mindset means a lack of need for flights. And yes, that leads to those who actually do travel for pleasure driving to Austin for a better deal. I’ve done it and it hasn’t been for a non-stop flight, it’s been for the financial savings. It’s cheaper to pay for a flight out of Austin and pay for long term parking and gas than to fly out of SA on many flights.

    Another problem is the city leadership’s small thinking. I continually see them pat themselves on the back on our growing city and how we’re a top 10 U.S. city. Most of the great cities we say we’re passing up on that list are land locked. Many can’t grow any more. All those cities we’re passing up have significantly larger airports than us and that’s because those airports depend on a region to grow, not on a single city. City leadership needs to learn that for us to truly grow, growing our metropolitan footprint has more weight than what the city by itself can do. It’s the reason “smaller” cities have greater airports. It’s why we can’t get an NFL team. It’s why our large companies consider leaving for other metropolitan areas. It’s why other companies hesitate to put a footprint in our city. It’s why we applaud a 10-story condo building being considered for downtown while other cities are celebrating the completion of a 30-story condo building. We set small town goals, we accomplish small town goals, so we are considered small town.

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