Airport improvements progress during passenger decline.
May marked Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport’s return to pre-pandemic levels of monthly passengers. Enplaned passengers totaled 13,060, 10 percent higher than May 2019 and 340 percent higher than May 2020.
A drop in passenger levels directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, and by April, the number of passengers had dropped by 86 percent. Passenger numbers began recovering in July of 2020, but the severe winter storm in February of this year resulted in another steep decline.
“It has been a very challenging year for the aviation industry, but locally, working with our airline partners and airport tenants, we have been able to rebound faster than most airports in the country,” said Executive Director of Aviation Mike Wilson.
While the pandemic has challenged passenger levels over the past year, federal grant and relief funding has maintained airport operations and created opportunities for improvements. Notable projects include replacement and upgrade of the baggage handling system, apron pavement and lighting improvements and upcoming replacement of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
New vendors have recently begun serving the airport. Boarding Time Gifts, Co-Pilot Coffee & Cantina and Rotors & Wings Grill offer a variety of goods, food and beverages in the common areas and a limited selection inside the TSA secured areas.
A new commercial hangar is under construction and will be leased by CSI Aviation to expand its current operations. A second hangar is under design and will offer additional space to current or future lessees.
Wilson says staff has taken a more aggressive approach to business development in recent months to increase the airport’s visibility and viability. A robust digital marketing campaign has been created and is scheduled to launch this summer. An Air Service Development Task Force has brought together business leaders throughout the region to identify opportunities for partnerships and potential new routes.
“The key to growing our airport is ensuring that Central Texas travelers are aware of the benefits of flying from Killeen,” said Wilson. “The support we have received from our regional partners will play an important role in our efforts to increase flight frequency and destinations.”
Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport is served daily by two commercial airlines. American Airlines connects to its Dallas Fort Worth hub, and United Airlines connects to its Houston hub. Passengers can start their travel in Killeen and reach destinations throughout the world.