Early Texas Flight Schedule with Continental Up in the Air

Airport officials in Victoria are doing what they can to persuade Continental Airlines not to cancel an early-morning flight popular with Victoria business travelers.

He said the plan is to take the report, due in the coming weeks, to Continental to make a case for the reinstatement of Victoria's overnight flight.

Blackwell said frequent fliers can help in that effort by signing a petition available at the airport terminal calling for the reinstatement of the overnight flight.

Blackwell said Victoria residents can also call Continental at 1-800-WeCare2 to express their dissatisfaction with the cancellation.

Ridership in Victoria has been 800 to 1,000 outbound passengers per month. "We're afraid that's going to drop off with the schedule change," said Blackwell.

Continental's Zachary was asked what it would take for the airline to reinstate the overnight flight. She said there is no definitive answer to that question.

"We have to put our fixed number of assets where they're going to do the best," she said.

Ever-changing market factors, including the airline's variable network of flights and schedules, seasonality, shifts in business flying, costs, revenues and the other dynamics that impact the airline business, are all considered in determining where the planes will be placed, she said.

"Nothing is ever static in the airline business," Zachary said, adding that Continental wants Victoria's air service to be a success.

"We want Victoria to work. If it doesn't work for the them, it eventually doesn't work for us," said Zachary.

Blackwell said as long as the federal EAS program is subsidizing flights, Victoria Regional will continue to have airline service.

But because Congressional budget cuts threaten the EAS program each year, it would be preferable if Victoria's air service were self-supporting, as it was prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

In 2003, declining ridership led longtime Victoria carrier Continental Express to cease its flights to Victoria. Flights since then have been EAS subsidized.

Blackwell said profitability will return only after riders return to using the service in greater numbers -- and he issued a plea for residents to do so.

"All I ask is that people fly Victoria first. Don't listen to those who say it's too expensive or too this or too that."

He said the airport offers free parking, convenient check-in and is making plans to reopen its terminal restaurant as well as a gift shop.

To boost safety, airport officials are also working to put the airfield's non-functioning control tower back into operation and are building a new runway-side fire station.

"We're working very hard to develop our air service," said Blackwell. "Continental will put more flights here and give us better times -- if we'll fly."


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