Now that the election is over and Donald Trump is the president, his former digital director has his eyes on the skies over San Antonio. Towards the end of the campaign, Brad Parscale basically lived at San Antonio's airport, waiting to catch a flight to Florida, New York or Washington D.C.
He says his frustration over a lack of choices and few direct flights is shared by the heads of large companies that look to Texas.
"During the campaign when people were visiting us, especially from large companies like Facebook and Google, the most common thing they said was, while they love the city, it's so difficult to get here," he tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI.
In fact, when AT&T moved its corporate headquarters out of San Antonio in 2008 and relocated to Dallas, the main reason the company gave at the time for the relocation was the lack of direct flights in and out of San Antonio International Airport.
In the last five years, Austin Bergstrom International Airport has been growing at a much faster pace than SAT, adding airlines like JetBlue, which SAT doesn't have, and offering direct non-stops to Europe. The only international non-stops out of SAT are a handful of flights to Mexico.
Emboldened by an election victory that few saw coming, Parscale is funneling his efforts towards improving San Antonio, and a change to air travel is at the top of his list. He would like to see a move towards creating a second airport that would cater to low cost airlines like Southwest and Jet Blue.
"Houston Hobby is a secondary airport. You have Dallas Love. You have Chicago Midway," he explains. "Lots of major cities have a second airport for low cost airlines."
Parscale says a lack of direct flights at San Antonio International, and no non-stops to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, hurts our economy. Instead of setting up southern headquarters, he says these big tech companies only see the city as a place for call centers, which rarely get visited by the executives.
The major stumbling block is the cost, but Parscale may be getting help from a bipartisan push in Congress.
The Rebuilding America’s Airport Infrastructure Act, which was just presented, would allow airports to jack up the passenger facility charge, which is a fee administered by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Today, flyers are charged a fee of $4.50 on every plane ticket. That amount has been the same for more than a decade.
“Airports need flexibility and local control to finance major construction projects. This market-driven reform will help modernize our nation’s airports and return power to local decision-makers,” Thomas Massie (R-KY) said in a statement.
While it would likely increase the cost of airline tickets, those who don’t fly don’t have to pay for big projects.
Those who do fly benefit from the improvements, like better flights and more choices.