Charter flight passenger numbers out of the Wichita Falls Regional Airport are up and that is turning into big dollars for the airport.
Crowell resident, Ronny Baize, is one of the 147 passengers who deboarded a charter plane at the airport on Monday — after a weekend in Nevada.
“Riverside, Don Laughlin’s Casino invites people that you know gamble and play in their casino to fly out there, so they charter the plane,” Baize said.
The Wichita Falls Regional Airport hosts charter flights coming to and from two different casinos in Nevada.
“As far as accommodations — yes this airport is just as good as the next one or better,” Baize said.
Since 2014, when the city built the new terminal, Wichita Falls has seen about a 50 percent increase in charter plane passenger numbers.
That’s as the airport in Lawton no longer offers casino charters because of weight restriction on the runway.
“It’s within a fifty mile radius or more that people come up to take these flights. We get them coming down from Oklahoma City. From Duncan. From Norman. From Denton. From Bowie. Everybody is coming from all over to take these charter flights,” airport administrator, Jon Waltjen, said.
Airport administrator, Jon Waltjen, said the city’s airport gets around $3,800 per round trip charter flight, which brings in $45,000 per year.
And with the improved number in passengers, he said they are now looking to expand charter flight services.
“Another thing I’m working with the charters too is different destinations — besides just the casino flights,” Waltjen said.
So far, Waltjen said they have looked into Disney World and Branson as other possible destinations.
Waltjen said the charters have been flying in and out of the airport for about ten years and the added revenue they are seeing from the increase in traffic goes directly into the airport’s operational funds.