- United Airlines is adding a new route from the small city of Texarkana to Houston.
- The route will be funded by a federal grant provided by the Department of Transportation.
- The airport hopes the route's strategic schedule will allow people to fly to Houston for work and be back for dinner.
After dropping 11 cities since the start of November, United Airlines is adding one new small city to its network.
United Airlines' subsidiary CommutAir will launch a new route to Texarkana Regional Airport on February 13, which serves the city on the border of Texas and Arkansas. The United Express flight will operate once daily between Texarkana and Houston using a 50-seater Embraer 145, according to the airport. The move comes after United slashed a handful of small markets due to unsustainability and low demand.
Service to Texarkana is new, though it was not originally United's plan. According to The Points Guy, the Department of Transportation's Small Community Air Service Development Program awarded the airport an $884,722 grant to fund the operation. The one-year federal contract will be a test to see if the flights work and ensure United does not lose money on the route even if the plane is not full, according to KSLA News 12, a CBS-affiliated local news station.
"We are ecstatic to officially add Houston in our route network and provide more travel options for our community," Texarkana's airport director, Paul Merlich said in a statement. "Houston is a unique and exciting destination for local residents to enjoy and we are confident our community will support this new route in a way that will ensure its long-term success."
The flight will depart Texarkana at approximately 7 a.m. and return at approximately 7:25 p.m., according to the airport.
"Over the course of the year we are looking to increase the number of people flying from our airport to 10,000 people," Merlich told KSLA. "That means a person could potentially fly down to Houston in the morning, work an eight-hour day, and fly home and be home in time for dinner."
Officials at Texarkana have high hopes for the airport with the construction of a brand new terminal and United's future service.
"With the new terminal coming, the airline's coming back, this is kind of the starting of a rebirth of our airport and we hope that will ripple out to the entire community," Merlich said.
In addition to United's new route to Texarkana, American Airlines also serves the small city. The Texas-based carrier operates up to four daily flights between the community and its Dallas-Fort Worth hub. While American is keeping its operations at Texarkana, it has cut other low-demand markets during the pandemic.
In September 2021, the Hartford Courant reported the airline dropped flights to New Haven, Connecticut, leaving the airport with no commercial air service until Avelo Airlines entered the market on November 3. Meanwhile, also in September, Williamsport, Pennsylvania lost its daily American service from Philadelphia, according to ABC-affiliate news station WNEP 16.