Whether or not commercial air service will resume at Del Rio International Airport will depend on decisions far out of local hands, Mayor Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano says.
The mayor spoke about the resumption of commercial air service during a presentation to the Del Rio Economic Development Corporation on Oct. 15.
Following a discussion by Lozano of ongoing and future projects, Del Rio Economic Development Corporation President Leo Martinez asked if there were any questions, and Vice President Eddie Amezcua Jr. asked about the future of commercial air service here.
“The only question I have, mayor, is with the pause of service in the airline right now and it being a big question mark, have you heard anything on the federal side, or have we set up meetings with people on the federal side, to learn where we stand with that?” Amezcua asked.
“I have definitely been trying to pull every single weight that I have. Being in the airline industry myself, and understanding the dynamics of it, because the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act 2.0 did not pass, airlines had to make very tough decisions on their employment status, and there were multiple furloughs throughout different sectors of aviation,” Lozano replied.
“What the public sees is United and American doing the furloughs of 40,000 and more, but what they don’t see is the furloughs in the support system, including mechanics and the hotel industry, in every component of the airline industry,” he added.
Lozano pointed out there had been 25,000 workers furloughed by Disney, because those workers’ jobs were directly related to tourism brought in by the airlines.
“And I wasn’t the only mayor included in the circle of trying to get CARES 2.0 to pass. Unfortunately, we’re in an election year, and Congress is doing Congress’ best to try and push things forward, but I feel until Nov. 3, we’re not going to see any movement for funding from the federal side,” Lozano said.
Similar concerns also exist on the local level, he said.
“We’re all in a bind financially as far as potential resources and revenue sources in the future for 2021 and 2022, so I really don’t see any more additional money being able to be set aside for the airline service, so right now, unless we can get the corporate side, the industrial side, to pitch in and help sustain some of the airline service, I leave it up to you guys to get some ideas my way and work with what we can,” the mayor said.
Lozano said he has stayed in close contact with the city and county’s advocacy group in Washington, D.C., and assured the Del Rio Economic Development Corporation board, “they have been talking to everybody under the sun.”
Another Del Rio Economic Development Corporation member asked what the mayor thinks might happen after the election.
Lozano said the city had received word that day (Oct. 15) that the “pause in service” has been extended to December.
Lozano added even if another stimulus bill is passed by Congress, “not every industry is going to get a piece of the funds.”
“The airline industry is just one of many that are affected ... how much can Congress give until they can’t, and how do you pick and choose,” he said.
One of the points in Del Rio’s favor, Lozano said, is that the Del Rio route was getting healthier and healthier, and that American had slated a third route between here and Dallas to begin in May 2021.
“Everything was looking great, but COVID-19 has completely dismantled the airline industry that I work in,” the mayor said.