Abilene Regional Airport
|Abilene Regional Airport|
|IATA: ABI – ICAO: KABI – FAA LID: ABI|
|Owner/Operator||City of Abilene|
|Elevation AMSL||1,791 ft / 546 m|
Abilene Regional Airport (IATA: ABI, ICAO: KABI, FAA LID: ABI) is a public airport three miles (5 km) southeast of Abilene, in Taylor County, Texas. It is within the Abilene city limits and owned and operated by the City.
Most operations at the airport are general aviation and military training. Abilene Regional is currently served by one airline, Envoy Air operating as American Eagle, with eight (8) daily Embraer regional jet flights to Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW). American Eagle introduced an additional regional jet flight to DFW on August 19, 2014 thus increasing the number of flights to this major American Airlines hub. Continental Connection operated by Colgan Air on behalf of Continental Airlines ended Saab 340 turboprop flights to Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in October 2008. Allegiant Airlines operated twice-weekly flights to Las Vegas (LAS) with McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jetliners in 2006–07 before ceasing all service to Abilene. Charter air carriers such as Sun Country Airlines continue to operate flights on an occasional basis from ABI to Las Vegas with mainline jet aircraft such as the Boeing 737.
New airline service, especially to the northwest and west to major airline hubs such as Phoenix (PHX) or Denver (DEN), is a top priority for airport management. Many area residents drive to Dallas-Ft. Worth rather than fly out of ABI, and airlines have always apparently faced a challenge with regard to operating profitable jet service into ABI. The advent of 50-seat regional jets has the potential to provide air service with such aircraft from Abilene to more cities.
Air freight service to Abilene is provided primarily by subcontractors. The airport was formerly served by major carriers; UPS and USPS now primarily truck their overnight packages in from Dallas-Fort Worth, and most Abilene-bound FedEx Express shipments are sent through Lubbock.
Native Air (formerly Southwest Medevac) housed an emergency medical helicopter and crew at the airport for about 10 years, but closed the base in 2014. The city's remaining emergency medical helicopter service is provided by Air Evac Lifeteam, with its aircraft and crew stationed at Hendrick Medical Center.
Abilene Regional is also home to Eagle Aviation Services, Inc., which is a heavy-maintenance base for all American Eagle aircraft. Basically every plane in the airline's fleet is maintained at ABI. The airport grounds also act as an aircraft boneyard for American Eagle, which stores around 20 retired Saab 340 turboprop aircraft which remain in the airline's livery. American Eagle replaced these propjets with Embraer regional jets.
Texas State Technical College provides aviation maintenance training at its on-field hangar base.
Historical airline service
Historically, Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) operated Douglas DC-3 and Convair 240 propliners as well as Convair 600 turboprops into Abilene during the mid 1960s with service primarily to Dallas Love Field. TTa then introduced the first jet service with Douglas DC-9-10 twin jets in the late 1960s. At this same time, TTa was also operating nonstop flights to Austin (AUS) and Lubbock (LBB) with direct, no change of plane service to Albuquerque (ABQ), Amarillo (AMA), Houston Hobby Airport (HOU), San Antonio (SAT) and Santa Fe (SAF). Most of these flights were operated with Convair 600 turboprops but some DC-9 flights offered continuing service via Dallas direct to Austin and Houston. Trans-Texas Airways subsequently changed its name Texas International (TI) which in turn continued to serve Abilene with Douglas DC-9 and Convair 600 aircraft. TI served Amarillo (AMA) and Lubbock (LBB) from Abilene as well as flying DC-9 jets to Dallas Love Field (DAL) and then Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW) when this airfield opened. In 1970, Texas International was operating four flights a day to Dallas, two of which were operated with DC-9 jets. Both of these DC-9 flights to Dallas offered continuing, direct service to San Antonio. Also at this same time, TI was operating direct Convair 600 turboprop service to Albuquerque as well as a nonstop DC-9 jet flight to San Angelo (SJT) as an extension of service from Dallas. In 1979, TI was operating up to four nonstop DC-9 jet flights a day from San Antonio to ABI in addition to flying nonstop DC-9 service four times a day to Dallas/Ft. Worth. However, with the merger of Texas International and Continental Airlines, TI ceased all flights into Abilene and the airport lost its only jet service in the early 1980s. Jet service then returned in 1984 when the original Frontier Airlines (1950-1986) initiated direct flights to Denver via an intermediate stop in Midland/Odessa with Boeing 737-200 jetliners. However, by the spring of 1985, Frontier had ceased serving Abilene and the airport once again lost jet service. Reliable jet service would not return to Abilene until the introduction of Embraer ERJ-140 and Embraer ERJ-145 regional jet aircraft flown by American Eagle, the regional airline division of American Airlines.
Chaparral Airlines was a regional airline based in Abilene that began service during the 1970s. Chaparral operated Beech 99 and CASA 212 twin turboprop aircraft as well as Piper prop aircraft. In 1979, Chaparral was operating nonstop flights to both Dallas Love Field (DAL) and Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW) and was also flying nonstop to Austin (AUS) and Houston Hobby Airport (HOU). The air carrier then introduced larger, 37-passenger Grumman Gulfstream I-C turboprops which was a stretched regional airline version of the successful Gulfstream I business propjet. In 1984, Chaparral was operating nonstop flights from Abilene to Austin (AUS), Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) and Houston Hobby Airport (HOU) with direct, one stop service to San Antonio (SAT) via Austin. Chaparral would eventually become an American Eagle air carrier flying code share service on behalf of American Airlines.
Facilities and aircraft
Abilene Regional Airport covers 1,686 acres (682 ha) and has three asphalt runways: 4/22, 3,678 x 100 ft (1,121 x 30 m), 17L/35R 7,198 x 150 ft (2,194 x 46 m), and 17R/35L 7,202 x 150 ft (2,195 x 46 m). In June 1952 it had four runways (045-079-129-180 deg) 3200 to 3684 ft long.
The terminal has seen many expansions and improvements in the past decade. The upper level houses the airline ticket counters, restaurant, gift shop, airport offices, and two departure gates, each with Jetway boarding bridges. The lower level has two baggage carousels and car-rental agencies.
Recent improvements include the reconstruction of the airline ramps near the terminal and a new, expanded public parking lot. The new lot has 731 covered parking spaces and escalator access to the upper level.
Construction of the airport's new 130-foot (40 m)-tall control tower began in August 2010 and was completed in January 2012. This new tower replaces a 65-foot (20 m) tower built in 1959.
In 2006 the airport had 78,462 aircraft operations, an average of 214 per day: 50% general aviation, 32% military, 18% air taxi and <1% scheduled commercial. 98 aircraft are based at this airport: 78% single-engine, 16% multi-engine, 5% jet and 1% helicopter.
Airlines and destinations
operated by Envoy Air
A GDS search indicated that Delta Air Lines would begin service to/from Atlanta in April 2014, but Abilene Airport officials stated on their Twitter account that there would be no such service.
- Abilene Regional Airport at City of Abilene web site
- FAA Airport Master Record for ABI ( PDF), effective 2007-12-20
- aa.com, American Airlines system timetable
- http://www.timetableimages.com, Oct. 30, 1966 Trans-Texas Airways system timetable
- http://www.timetableimages.com, August/September 1968 Trans-Texas Airways system timetable
- http://www.departedflights.com, July 1, 1970 Texas International system timetable
- http://www.departedflights.com, Nov. 15, 1979 Official Airline Guide (OAG) Abilene schedules
- http://www.departedflights.com, June 1, 1982 Continental/Texas International joint system timetable
- http://www.departedflights.com, June 8, 1984 Frontier Airlines jet service route map
- http://www.departedflights.com, April 4, 1985 Frontier Airlines jet service route map
- http://www.timetablesonline, Chaparral Airlines
- http://www.departedflights.com, Nov. 15, 1979 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Abilene schedules
- http://www.airliners.net, photos of Chaparral Airlines CASA 212 aircraft
- http://www.departedflights.net, Nov. 15, 1979 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Abilene schedules
- http://www.airliners.net, photos of Chaparral Airlines Grumman Gulfstream I-C aircraft
- http://www.departedflights.com, Sept. 15, 1984 Chaparral Airlines route map
- http://www.airtimes.com, April 28, 1985 American Eagle operated by Chaparral Airlines system timetable
- (PDF), effective December 11, 2014
- FAA Terminal Procedures for ABI, effective December 11, 2014
- Resources for this airport: