Abilene Regional Airport is a public airport located three statute miles (5 km) southeast of the central business district of Abilene, a city in Taylor County, Texas, United States. It is within the Abilene city limits and owned and operated by the City of Abilene.
The majority of aircraft operations at the airport are general aviation and military training. However, ABI is most visible as the commercial airline and air freight hub for the Abilene region. Abilene Regional is currently served by just one commercial airline, American Eagle Airlines, with 7 daily regional jet flights to Dallas-Ft. Worth. Continental Connection ceased operations to-from Houston in October 2008, citing high fuel prices as a factor. Allegiant Airlines operated twice-weekly flights to Las Vegas from 2006-07, but the service was discontinued due to low passenger loads on the airline's MD-80 aircraft. Charter airlines such as Sun Country continue to serve ABI with frequent large-jet flights to Las Vegas, however.
The acquisition of new airline service, especially to west-bound airline hubs such as Phoenix or Denver, is a top priority for airport management. Due to Abilene's relatively close driving distance to Dallas-Ft. Worth, many area residents have historically chosen to drive to DFW rather than fly out of ABI. Thus, airlines have always had trouble making a profit flying traditional jetliners out of ABI. The advent of 50-seat regional jets, which fly as high and as fast as larger planes, has the potential to provide air service from Abilene to cities that were previously out of the question.
Overnight air freight service is provided primarily by FedEx; DHL ceased operations at the airport in late 2008 as part of the company's exit from the domestic U.S. market. Other air freight subcontractors also provide service to ABI, though both UPS and USPS primarily truck their overnight packages in from Dallas-Fort Worth. In addition, Southwest Medevac houses a medical helicopter and crew at the airport, available for emergency response 24/7. The city's other emergency medical helicopter service is provided by Lifeteam Air Evac, with its aircraft and crew stationed at Hendrick Medical Center.
Abilene Regional is also home to Eagle Aviation Services, Inc., which is a heavy-maintenance base for all American Eagle aircraft. Basically every plane in the airline's fleet is maintained at ABI. Texas State Technical College provides aviation maintenance training at its on-field hangar base.
Historically, Trans-Texas Airways, which later became Texas International, had prop-jet service from Amarillo and Lubbock as well as DC-9 jet service to Dallas Love Field and then DFW. The original Frontier Airlines served Abilene via Midland for a short time in 1985 with a 737.