City leaders welcome American Airlines

HARLINGEN — It was a Harlingen welcome of burgers and fish tacos yesterday for representatives of American Airlines, which will resume flights in and out of Valley International Airport on March 3.

Mayor Chris Boswell, other city officials and business leaders met with American’s Dale Morris, senior consultant for government affairs, at a luncheon at Frankie Flav’z and later a tour of the airport.

American Airlines pulled its flights from the Harlingen airport in 2001 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and is now making its return.

“Harlingen has so much to offer and our headquarters folks, our chairman, everybody is excited and pleased to be coming back,” Morris said. “I have known this man here, (VIA director of aviation) Marv Esterly, for over 20 years and we sort of have followed each other. He was just so adamant about ‘Dale, you’ve got to get down here and see Harlingen, and see what we have to offer.’

“I’m glad we’re back,” Morris added. “I’m just upset we took so long.”

American brings the number of airlines flying passengers in and out of Valley International to six, including Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.

Both American and Frontier were lured to the Harlingen airport with a new $1.55 million incentive program called the Air Service Development Program introduced by city officials late last year. American will receive an incentive payment of $834,000 to fly into Valley International under the program.

Beginning March 3, Fort Worth-based American will offer three daily flights from Harlingen to Dallas-Fort Worth.

“Everybody is pulling together to make it work — the airport board, chamber of commerce, convention and visitors bureau, all the city leaders,” Morris said. “Mayor, thank you so very much for everything you’ve done to help get us back here.

“We’re going to look for greater and better things and grow the service,” Morris added.