The airport addresses some common questions about operations and air travel.
By: Kim Bridger-Hunt
Q: Why does Corpus Christi International Airport (CCIA) include the word, “international,” when the airport does not have scheduled international flights?
A: We get this one a lot. CCIA is designated a Port of Entry for aliens arriving in the United States by aircraft. Not every airport has that designation. Since expanding our Federal Inspection Services Area (FIS) back in 2011, we have seen some international charter traffic and general aviation flights from other countries, as well.
Because we have a fully equipped FIS, CCIA routinely receives commercial international flights that are diverted here due to weather or mechanical issues. The good news is that we are poised and ready to accommodate international flights once there is sufficient demand for the service.
We aren’t alone. Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, Laredo International Airport and Midland International Air & Space Port all use the “I” word in their name, but have no scheduled international service.
Q: When will CCIA have flights to Mexico?
A: We think the day will come when there is enough demand to support service to Mexico out of CCIA. Will that be demand for business travel between Corpus Christi and Mexico City? Will that be demand for leisure travel from people in Monterey who discover that Corpus Christi is a fabulous place to vacation? We are aggressive about presenting the Corpus Christi business and destination story to the airlines in Mexico. And we strongly believe the day will come.
Q: Why doesn’t CCIA have a cell phone lot?
A: Cell phone lots have become very popular with the proliferation of mobile and smart phones. People who are coming to the airport to pick up someone want a place where they can pull in and wait for their passenger free of charge. Although it may seem like we have a lot of land here at CCIA, much of the prime real estate for a cell phone lot is actually reserved for business development in the future.
CCIA is owned and operated by the city of Corpus Christi. The airport is what’s known as an “enterprise” fund, which simply means that we must generate revenue to continue operating. The airport is not supported by any sales or property taxes. Another way to say this is that practically everything we build needs to be paid for by the users.
So a free cell phone lot is a challenge. Parking lots are expensive, and without a revenue stream to pay for a lot and the maintenance of it, CCIA has opted to steer clear of creating something that drains revenue from other needs. Having said that, we are always exploring ways to provide a cell phone lot in the future. Don’t give up on this one. By the way: CCIA customers can pull in to the short-term parking lot and stay for 30 minutes for $1.
Q: What will it take for CCIA to get nonstop flights to cities like New York, Denver and Las Vegas?
A: Demand for the service. Currently, we have approximately 25 people a day flying from CCIA to Denver on our three airlines. That number does not meet the threshold of demand that would suggest a revenue-generating route for, say, United Airlines, which hubs in Denver. The number is similar for Las Vegas. It’s very tough to go to Southwest Airlines and say, “we want you to provide a nonstop flight to Vegas every day,” when they fly 737s with 135 seats on board.
It’s a numbers game. But that doesn’t stop us from talking to our incumbent airlines about additional routes and to other carriers that might consider serving Corpus Christi in the future. There are low-cost carriers out there that provide service to leisure destinations like Las Vegas, but do it only twice a week. That is an option we continually explore.
Q: Why is it often more expensive to fly from CCIA than it is out of San Antonio or Houston?
A: The answer is complicated, but it has to do, in part, with supply and demand, connectivity at the HUBS and the pricing formulas used by the airlines. We routinely track airfare out of CCIA and compare it to the prices offered in San Antonio. There are times of the year when airfare to our top 20 destinations is almost identical out of both airports. But we also acknowledge the occasional big difference you will see to somewhere like Seattle or Des Moines.
We understand why it’s tempting and sometimes necessary to drive to larger airports to start your trip. But always consider the additional costs you incur when you do that. Every time local travelers make that choice, they are investing in those other communities. Our data shows that about 30 percent of air travelers from the Coastal Bend fly out of San Antonio or Houston.
In many respects, it helps perpetuate our challenge. To show higher demand, we need more people getting on airplanes at CCIA. In order to attract more travelers to CCIA, we need more flights and nonstop service. Which comes first: the chicken or the egg? In this case, what must come first are travelers who choose to fly out of their hometown airport.
Kim Bridger-Hunt is the marketing manager at Corpus Christi International Airport. For more information, contact her at email@example.com.