The Real Costs

“Leaking” to other airports versus flying out of Corpus Christi

By: Kim Bridger

Leakage: (noun)
The amount that is lost when something leaks

It happens in small and medium-sized airports all over the country: Travelers “leak” to larger airports to get cheaper airfare and to avoid airport layovers. It’s understandable in some cases. But it’s costly, too.

Leakage: the numbers
So here’s the common scenario: You live in Corpus Christi. You pack your kids, your luggage and a heavy dose of patience in the car so you can drive two-and-a-half hours to San Antonio. When you add traffic, gas, a meal on the road, an overnight stay, the price of parking, the long wait at TSA and the added inconvenience of the drive home when you return, you have just packed on pounds of time and expense in an effort to save time and money.

A recent study revealed that among travelers who live within a 60-mile radius of Corpus Christi International Airport (CCIA), 33 percent drive to San Antonio or Houston to catch flights. This is actually a slight improvement over years past. But it still poses a huge challenge for CCIA and for the community.

Approximately 130,000 people “leaked” last year to bigger airports that can undoubtedly offer more choices, better schedules and sometimes lower airfare. Circumstances sometimes make it necessary. But leaking is costly in ways that may not be obvious.

The cost of leakage
When travelers make that choice to use another airport, they are taking away from CCIA’s ability to grow and offer more in the future. CCIA is owned and operated by the city of Corpus Christi. CCIA is an enterprise fund, which means that the airport must generate revenue in order to operate. CCIA does not receive taxpayer money from the general fund. CCIA generates revenue from:

• Airlines, who pay landing and ramp fees and lease rates for ticket counter, gate, office space

• Rental car companies, who lease space for counters and parking

• Restaurants and gift shops, who lease space to operate

• Tenants that lease ground and/or facilities, like the National Weather Service, FedEx Ground and the Fixed Base Operators (FBOs), who provide services to the general aviation community

• Visitors and commercial customers, who pay by way of parking fees and a passenger facility fee that helps fund and maintain the terminal building

When leakers choose to use another airport, they are, in a sense, investing in someone else’s community. When someone asks when we’ll have nonstop flights to XYZ city, the answer is “when there is a strong enough demand for the service.”

The airlines are private businesses that look to maximize their profit. The Coastal Bend has been served by three major airlines for many, many years. These airlines provide service here for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s beneficial to their overall operation. This community has kept this core service without having to offer revenue guarantees to the airlines, even though that is still a very common occurrence in the industry, particularly for small airports.

CCIA is a non-hub airport that acts as a feeder to the main hubs for American, Southwest and United. The main reason the airlines do not offer nonstop service from CCIA to a long list of destinations is that we do not have the population base to support those flights.

What we do have is three main airlines serving the community with an average of 38 flights a day to hubs where you can connect and get just about anywhere in the world that you want to go. The more we use the service we have, the more likely we are to see expanded offerings in the future. In other words, less leaking equals a better shot at more choices here at home.

A word about airfare
Airfare out of CCIA is often very competitive with fares out of San Antonio. We routinely monitor airfare to the top 20 destinations out of CCIA, and when purchased 21 days out, the average price difference with San Antonio is $10 to $20. So shop around! When it’s time to travel, compare prices and consider the real costs of driving to another airport.

Most importantly, remember that CCIA is your airport! CCIA is here to serve the community with a level of convenience that you don’t get everywhere. No long drives. No long lines. No long treks to your gate. No kidding!


Kim Bridger is the marketing manager at Corpus Christi International Airport. For more information, contact her at


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