BROWNSVILLE — It's come a very long way from the very first Brownsville Airport in 1929 and it's continuing to grow. Each year more and more passengers are flying in and out of the Brownsville South Padre International Airport.
Part of a federal grant of over 700-thousand dollars will be used keep the airport in tip top shape as business continues to increase.
Maintaining airport infrastructure, the taxiways and runways are some of the top improvements projects that will soon be in the works.
But just how long will this 40 year old building be able to fully service the growing number of air travelers?
"Earlier this year we heard from four airlines that invited us to their headquarters to talk about new destinations and more flights which is great. Now if they all came at the same time, we'd have to do some creative scheduling but we can do it," says Michael Jones, Business Development Manager, of the Brownsville South Padre International Airport.
This very dilemma points out a need for a bigger, more modern airport.
One hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars of that federal grant money will be used to conduct a study to see if expanding the current airport or building a new passenger terminal here is in the best interest of the airport and its passengers.
Currently, the airport which stations three airlines and operates about 12 flights daily serves roughly 200-thousand passengers a year, but airport officials think long term, the current building, due to its size just won't cut it.
Jones believes that expanding or rebuilding the airport will eventually pay off for the city and Cameron County as a whole.
"The airport is a huge economic engine for the city. One flight on a 50 passenger jet creates more than 200 permanent jobs. Just one flight pumps 300-thousand dollars in sales tax revenue into all the towns we serve, excluding Mexico. And it brings 20-million dollars to the area economy which includes Mexico," explains Jones.
Any expansion or a new build will be made possible through FAA grants, possibly a bond and through other means of funding.
The study is expected to take about one year to complete.