The airline industry's struggles with profitability, increasing fuel costs and mergers have drastically affected small and midsize airports that depend on airlines for business, said Brent Bowen, professor and head of aviation technology at Purdue University.
The El Paso airport, with a taxpayer-funded budget of about $48 million, is not immune. The airport's traffic is down 15 percent since 2010, said Monica Lombrana, the city's director of aviation. Lombrana also said Southwest Airlines, which operates more than half of El Paso's daily flights, plans to stop its direct flight to San Diego in the near future. The announcement comes a few months after the airline stopped its two nonstop flights to Albuquerque.
"It's a pretty stark situation for medium-sized airports," Bowen said. "And it has pretty much everything to do with the airline industry, which those airports have little or no control over." Read more