Even before losing Delta Air Lines in January, Killeen airfares were routinely higher than competing airports in Austin or Dallas. It's a problem Killeen Councilman Gregory Johnson has seen for a while.
"Citizens continue to complain that the airlines are charging too much to fly out." Johnson said. "If a citizen can drive 60 minutes down the road and save almost $200 on a flight, that is going to continue to have an effect."
After losing Delta, however, Johnson said the city also lost more than $200,000 and the Killeen Airport has been in the red consistently. The best way to turn that around, Johnson said, is to find another budget airline to take its place.
Meanwhile, a local veteran is starting a business to help people out by shuttling them from Killeen to Austin–Bergstrom International Airport. Staff Sergeant Felecia Fogle is starting up Killeen Express Shuttle on Monday, January 29. It will run passengers from the Walmart at 3404 W. Stan Schlueter Loop in Killeen to the airport and back six times a day.
Fogle said she decided to start the business after family started flying into the area for a funeral a year ago.
"They used the Austin and Dallas airport, which was kind of inconvenient because we had to go back and forth picking up different family members on different days at different times," Fogle said. "I was like, 'we need a shuttle!'"
After other soldiers on Fort Hood continued to ask her if they could get a ride to Austin and Dallas airports, Fogle decided to go forward and open the business up. She has one van going to Austin right now but plans to go much bigger.
"We plan on purchasing another van next week and at the end, we hope to have another five vans," Fogle said.
Meanwhile, Killeen is still looking for a replacement for Delta. Councilman Johnson said it could take at least three months but city staff is supposed to be on top of it.
"The last time that I talked to the aviation director he said that he had a plan in place," Johnson said. "A plan to approach budget airline carriers. That is what we need. We need a third budget airline carrier."
The City of Killeen is also looking at an Airport Master Plan to better market the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport. Johnson said the plan will not make a difference, however, unless it addresses the need for more competitive prices.
"We can build that airport to be a Taj Mahal, citizens are not going to fly out of there unless they can get competitive rates," Johnson said.