The City of Cotulla, a center of Eagle Ford Shale activity, on Wednesday, Nov. 13, began a $9 million expansion of its Cotulla-LaSalle County Airport.
While hunters have long used the small airport to fly in for deer season, Eagle Ford oil-and-gas activity has brought a crush of new activity, Cotulla City Administrator Larry Dovalina says.
Corporate jets now account for a third of its traffic.
“We’re trying to facilitate people coming in to check on their oil-and-gas operations without having to fly somewhere else, rent a car and drive,” Dovalina says. “The nearest airports are San Antonio and Laredo.”
The expansion will add 6,005 feet of runway space, a parallel taxiway and additional parking. The airport’s current 5,000-foot runway doesn’t accommodate larger general-aviation aircraft, limiting jet traffic.
The project is slated for completion next summer.
Cotulla — located 130 miles southwest of San Antonio — already houses operations for Chesapeake Energy Corp., EOG Resources Inc. and other big energy players. An expanded airport likely will attract more, airport manager E.T. Page says.
“It means more oilfield businesses would start basing their companies in LaSalle County, which means more local jobs,” Page adds. “There will be a lot more direct and indirect jobs upon completion of this project.”
To accommodate further growth, city and airport officials also are in talks with a pair of private investors interested in building hangars at the site, Dovalina says. The airport currently boasts a single hangar.
What’s more, airport officials recently notified the Texas Department of Transportation that current traffic justifies expanding its terminal facility. It will need state approval before it can begin design work on the project, Dovalina says.