McAllen International Airport sees banner year and bright future ahead

dfwnewsa | January 9, 2024 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News

McAllen International Airport sees banner year and bright future ahead
Jeremy Santoscoy

Though

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the final numbers have yet to come in, all signs point to 2023 having been a banner year for the McAllen International Airport — a banner year that followed nearly half a decade of similarly successful upward momentum.

That’s according to Jeremy Santoscoy, who, last month, was named the new director of the Rio Grande Valley’s largest and busiest airport.

“Ending November 2023, we’re up 10% year over year on total traffic. Market seats are up 10% and load factors are up 1%,” Santoscoy recently said.

Not only did traffic increase by double-digit figures last year, but revenues climbed by 6% in 2023.

That revenues saw such a sizeable increase despite the loss of a longtime partnership with Aeromar — a Mexican airline that declared bankruptcy last year — speaks to the airport’s vitality overall.

And part of that vitality comes from its ability to secure new partnerships with other airlines, including Aeromexico, that will begin service to Mexico City next month.

In April, Delta Air Lines is also expected to offer thrice daily flights to the state capital’s Austin-Bergestrom International Airport.

“Conservatively speaking, we’re looking at another 6-7% growth year-over-year,” Santoscoy said.

“That’ll really impact our activity numbers, especially adding the two routes that we didn’t have before. That’ll help and pick up activity in 2024,” he added a moment later.

Aeromar ceased operations at McAllen last January, ending a 13-year partnership that saw passengers depart from McAllen to destinations south like Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey and Puerto Vallarta.

Despite that loss, the McAllen airport saw an average of 2,000 more passengers per month in 2023 compared to the previous year.

“So far, year-to-date to the end of November, we’ve done a total of 874,385 total passengers — that includes enplanements and deplanements,” Santoscoy said of passengers departing and arriving from the airport.

The McAllen International Airport on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in McAllen. (Emily D’Gyves | edgyves@themonitor.com)

That number — which represents 11 months of 2023 — is just 1,500 shy of the 875,899 passengers that passed through the airport in 2022, which was then considered record-breaking.

With an average of more than 79,480 passengers per month, the McAllen airport is on track to bust that record again once the December tallies come in.

“Three out of the last four years have been record breaking years,” Santoscoy said.

The only exception to that trend has been 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced large scale interruptions to global commerce and travel.

“We were required to stay open through the pandemic, so we went through that, which was a little crazy. It was a ghost town, but we were required to stay open by federal law,” Santoscoy said of that anomalous year.

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Though Santoscoy was named director of aviation on Dec. 7, he’s not new to the airport or to the city of McAllen, which owns the airport.

He previously served as the deputy director of aviation responsible for securing millions of dollars in funding for various airport improvements, including a $26 million expansion project, $11 million for runway safety improvements and more.

Before that, Santoscoy served as McAllen’s transportation engineer.

“Being a part of that, and being a part of the growth of the region, it’s just something really special and really, I’m honored to be part of all this,” Santoscoy said.

An airport worker handles a cart at the McAllen Miller International Airport on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

Aside from the Delta and Aeromexico partnerships, McAllen International Airport also announced partnerships with the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Texas–Rio Grande Valley in 2023.

Though the partnerships don’t come with any sort of commitments that those organizations will fill seats on flights flying in or out of McAllen, they are important to community-building efforts, the aviation director said.

“It’s something on a bigger level than just passengers,” Santoscoy said.

However, when asked further if UTRGV has committed to flying its sports teams out of McAllen, or potentially having its Western Athletic Conference opponents fly into the city, Santoscoy said the McAllen International Airport is “their airport of choice” and “a natural fit.”

And Santoscoy said he’s excited about what’s to come in 2024 and beyond.

Currently, the McAllen sits as top dog compared to other airports in the region.

“Right now, we have maintained majority market share at about 44%, Harlingen with 41%, and Brownsville with 15%. That’s through November 2023,” Santoscoy said, referring to Valley International Airport and Brownsville South Padre Island International.

The aviation director is looking forward to further expanding McAllen’s services and finding the funding to pay for additional improvements.

“I’m really excited about the new routes and the growth that we’ve been having,” Santoscoy said.

“Our region continues to grow and we gotta support that growth,” he added.

The post McAllen International Airport sees banner year and bright future ahead appeared first on MyRGV.com.

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