Growth in passenger numbers at RGV airport contributes to the economy

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The onset of the pandemic crippled air travel, but now that vaccines are widely available, residents’ thirst for travel has increased.

Last year, Jeremy Santoscoy, EP deputy aviation manager for McAllen International Airport, said they had record passenger numbers.

“2019 was our previous record year; now, with the 2021 numbers behind us, nearly 850,000 passengers have passed through the airport,” Santoscoy said.

Santoscoy attributed the growth to new destinations added to its service.

“We bought Nashville, we bought Monterey and Guatemala back into our service,” Santoscoy said.

In Harlingen, Valley International Airport Air Services and Business Development Manager Nicolas Mirman said they also made a comeback last year thanks to travelers staying longer.

“Inbound passengers who come to the island from our area stay longer at work from here,” Mirman said.

In the Lower Valley, Francisco Partida, acting deputy director of aviation for Brownsville South Padre International Airport, didn’t see the automatic rebound until vaccines began rolling out.

“To be honest, we started off a bit weak at around minus 24% in the summer of 2021, we started to see better numbers, and then we ended the year with positive numbers and positive growth,” said Partida.

All three airports said that due to increased passenger numbers, there was also an economic benefit to the community.

“If you think about it, every time a passenger comes to our area to stay somewhere, they have to eat either Rent-A-Car,” Mirman said.

Mirman also said Harlingen Airport was making improvements to maintain its passenger flow.

“So we’re actually going to do a lot of work operationally. The main runway is going to be lengthened and the landing gear is going to be updated,” Mirman said.

Mirman also said he expects his partner airlines to extend flights and seats.

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