Texarkana Airport Says Money Woes Endangers Regional Status

The director of the Texarkana Regional Airport says its status as a commercial regional airport could be in danger.

Stephen Luebbert said in a Texarkana Gazette story published Monday that the airport faces a potential $88,000 shortfall this year. Since the airport is owned by Texarkana, Arkansas, and Texarkana, Texas, each city would have to address the shortfall -- $19,800 on the Arkansas side and $24,200 on the Texas side. Also in the shortfall is an expected $44,000 cut in a federal law enforcement officer grant.

Luebbert told the Airport Board last week that if the airport has to cut essential personnel and operational elements to make up for the shortfall, the Federal Aviation Administration would then likely downgrade the airport from its current designation as a commercial regional airport to a general aviation airport. He said that could harm business and industrial development in both cities.

"Right now, it is like the airport is on life support and we are being asked to give blood," Luebbert said.

Airport Board Chairman Wes Jordan said the cities would need to support the airport, which is located on the Arkansas side.

"In my opinion, both the cities are going to have to step up and buy into helping the airport become a community asset," he said. "The airport must become a priority with the cities."

The board asked Luebbert to arrange a meeting among city officials and possibly county officials, and the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce sometime before its next meeting March 19.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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