San Angelo air passengers who fly local are getting a better seat.


Because they are no longer cost-effective to operate, American Airlines is retiring 50-seat planes in favor of a new fleet of 65-seat CRJ-700 planes. The aircraft take flight from San Angelo Regional Airport on Friday, May 5.

The new planes offer more room to sit, more space to stand, larger overhead compartments plus wi-fi capabilities. There’s also a first-class option, with nine such seats available.

The number of seats is growing by one per day to 195. American, which provides service to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, will offer three departure times daily: 6:36 a.m., 10:36 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. Flights will arrive from DFW at 10:06 a.m., 4:10 p.m. and 11:05 p.m. Each flight lasts slightly more than an hour.

“This marks a real improvement in San Angelo’s air travel experience,” Chamber of Commerce President Dan Koenig said. “We are keeping, essentially, the same number of seats, but passengers will fly in roomier, more comfortable planes, with the option of upgrading to first class.”

San Angelo Regional Airport has for years pursued a second carrier that would provide service to another market. In 2016, the airport averaged 182 passengers per day.

“The key to landing a second airline is increasing the number of travelers,” Airport Director Luis Elguezabal said. “If passenger loads can ensure a carrier’s profitability, a second airline will come. San Angelo travelers should fly local. It costs less and is far more convenient.”

A round trip to Orlando, Florida, from May 23-31 costs $352.40 flying from San Angelo Regional Airport, which does not charge for parking. Plus, Elguezabal noted, the traveler flies directly home. The same trip flying Southwest Airlines from Midland costs $81.76 more -- $378.16 for airfare and $56 for parking. The traveler would then have to drive 2½ hours home, incurring additional fuel costs.

The same trip to Los Angeles costs $30.04 less flying from Midland – until fuel costs for five hours of round trip driving are factored in.

If Las Vegas is the destination, flying from Midland costs $13.05 less. But those savings would be devoured by the costs of driving five hours there and back.

“We’re rapidly approaching summer vacation season,” Elguezabal said. “Fly local. I can assure you and your pocketbook will be glad you did.”

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