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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Easterwood Airport boosts development

Since it opened in 1941, Easterwood Airport has helped Texas A&M and the surrounding areas grow and develop. The airport provides students and faculty with national and international transportation, said Charles Sippial, vice president for administration.
The airport, named Texas Airport of the Year by the Federal Aviation Administration in 1998, also provides students and residents of the Bryan-College Station area with an alternative to driving to larger airports.
“It is more convenient to use Easterwood rather than drive all the way to Houston or Dallas,” said Cassie Rutherford, a civil engineering graduate student.
Airport passengers can avoid large crowds in other airports without sacrificing safety.
“(Other airports) are more crowded, plus it takes longer to get through security,” Rutherford said. “It is the same security procedures (at Easterwood), but there are less people.”
An additional benefit of the airport is the accessibility of the University to international students.
“Many international students say that without the airport, they may not have come to A&M,” said John Happ, director of aviation services.
International students are an important part of initiatives such as Vision 2020, and are key to the diversity A&M is looking for. In addition, attracting international graduate students brings in research dollars for the University, Happ said.
While the airport may not be the main reason, it is a deciding factor in some international students’ decision to come to A&M.
“It was one of the reasons I decided to come here, but A&M has good programs,” said Taeck-Kyu Yim, a graduate civil engineering major from Korea.
A&M and visiting athletic teams are also provided easy access to College Station without having to take long bus rides to other airports.
Easterwood was founded by A&M and is run by University officials, but the airport is an FAA certified, self-supported entity.
“The airport operates on a $3 million budget,” Happ said. “We don’t receive (financial) support from the city, county or the University.”
The Texas A&M University System delegates and visitors to the George Bush Presidential Library fly in and out of Easterwood, Sippial said.
One of Easterwood’s disadvantages is its airfare. Smaller airports often cannot match the rates of larger airports.
“That’s one of the things I’ve been telling these airlines,” Happ said. “You have to get your prices down to get more customers.”

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