Friday, January 11, 2013

Aviation director calls 2012 'noneventful' at Abilene Regional Airport (KABI), Texas

The American Airlines bankruptcy, a new air traffic control tower and two restaurant closings and one opening left marks on Abilene Regional Airport last year. But Aviation Director Don Green thought differently about the year.

"It (was) a pretty non-eventful year for us," Green said Thursday.

The airport saw 80,435 passengers board planes, a 7 percent decrease in departures compared to 2011, when there were 86,591.

Green said a 7 percent spike in departures occurred in 2011 because of the numerous area wildfires brought firefighters and other first-responders through the airport.

"I did not predict any growth" for 2012, Green said.

Compared to 2010 numbers however, the airport's departures increased by about 600 passengers; 79,879 passengers in 2010.

There were 80,304 arrivals in 2012.


Business at the airport, served by American Eagle, has been largely unaffected by Fort Worth-based AMR Corp.'s 14 months of bankruptcy. In fact, Green said, the airport is gaining an additional afternoon flight.

An eighth flight connecting Abilene and Dallas Fort Worth International will start Feb. 14.

"The bankruptcy has been very interior to the company which is their goal as it is any company's goal," Green said. However, "there is talk that American Airlines will merge with US Airways," after the bankruptcy.

AMR Corp. filed bankruptcy in November 2011 after years of financial losses. American Eagle is a regional airline for AMR Corp. in Texas.

Representatives from AMR Corp. and US Airways are considering a merger, The Economist reported. AMR CEO Tom Horton said a decision on the possible merger could be made in "a matter of weeks."

A merger wouldn't pose a threat to jobs or flights at Abilene Regional, Green said.

"I think we will always have American Airlines-related service to DFW," he said.


A 145-foot-tall air traffic control tower opened in May. The tower, costing about $21 million, replaced a tower that dated to the 1950s.

"It was quite an improvement from a facility standpoint," Green said, "but most of all the new tower's height is twice as high as the old tower."

The old tower, which remains but is vacant, stands 65 feet.

With the old tower, Green said, "Controllers would lose sight of aircraft taxing in some places on the airport and that's not a good thing when you're supposed to be maintaining control of those aircraft."


Moose's Snack Shack and Cafe has opened in the terminal. Previously, a "lack of customers" complaint was given by Sherry Brown, owner of Sweet Celebrations, Too, at the airport.

Merry McKenna opened Moose's in November after Brown closed her restaurant in August. Sweet Celebrations, Too followed Ann's Airport Cafe, which closed in February.

"I think she's doing well," Green said of McKenna. He did not know how many customers frequented the restaurant daily.

"She seems to have all the wheels turning where we just always thought in the previous (restaurants), 'Oh, there's just something missing here,'" he said.

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