TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The City of Tyler is working to expand their airport in more ways than one; that includes finishing its longest runway and working to bring additional airlines to Tyler Pounds.
"We're wanting to entice a long-term relationship with an airline," says Davis Dickson, Airport Manager. "Hopefully get a new destination out of Tyler."
Dickson says they're hoping promotional incentives that will help offset the cost of start-up fees will help with that. The incentives include waiving landing fees for the first year for any airline willing to provide service to a new destination, waiving 50 percent of the cost to rent office space and waiving the landing fees for any airline willing to offer additional flights to Dallas.
New destinations are something many Tyler residents are hoping for. The city released the results of a travel survey taken last summer, showing more than a thousand people responded saying Houston, Orlando, Las Vegas and New Orleans were among the places they want to travel.
"We're getting a lot of customer feedback wanting to see added frequency to the DFW market," says Dickson. "My prediction is we're going to see flights to Austin fairly soon."
Though Dickson is actively meeting with airlines, it's not an overnight process. He says it can take eight months to a year between an airline deciding to come to Tyler and actually operating its first flight.
Dickson believes the airport's new runway will also help. The project, Runway 4-22, which has been under construction for four years, is expected to be complete by November.
"This new runway expansion is bringing capability this airport has never had before," says Dickson. "It's a longer distance, in other words, where aircrafts can go a further distance originating from here."
So far the new runway has cost around $48 million. On July 11, the Tyler City Council approved a budget increase for the project due to necessary design changes to the Instrument Landing System.
90 percent of the project has been funded through Federal Aviation Administration Grants, the other 10 percent comes from the Half-Cent Sales Tax Fund.