Love Winter or Leave It Behind with These Vacation ItinerariesDecember 2023
Step into Fitness with the Right FootwearDecember 2023
by Taylor Trahan Henry
Lake Charles Regional Airport is a bustling center of connectivity and economic vitality – a dynamic hub that stands as a testament to progress and growth. With over 30 tenants and spanning nearly 2,000 acres, LCH has become a staple in the region’s economic landscape, contributing over $333 million annually according to a recent DOTD study conducted by Mead & Hunt in 2022.
A staggering 75% of the airport’s self-sustainability is attributed to a myriad of business activities, including leases and fees. The airport is not just a physical space; it’s a thriving ecosystem that provides critical services to both our local residents and visitors.
“Connectivity is critical to our economy,” says Heath Allen, executive director. “LCH is proud to be an economic driver in Southwest Louisiana.”
Among these essential services is weather forecasting by NOAA, ensuring safe and efficient operations. LCH also plays a pivotal role in commercial air service, with two of the world’s largest airlines—American Airlines and United Airlines—offering seamless connections to domestic and international destinations. Moreover, the airport serves as a lifeline, facilitating emergency life flights by Acadian AirMed and offshore search and rescue missions by Bristow. It’s also hub for offshore oil and gas transportation services.
If you’re looking to travel this winter, LCH is your gateway to some of the best destinations. American Airlines, the world’s largest airline by mileage flown, connects our area to Dallas, offering the 4th most domestic connections and the 6th most international destinations. United Airlines, the second-largest airline globally, provides a gateway to Houston, with the 10th most domestic connections and the 8th most international destinations.
“American and United have strong networks out west,” says Allen. “United is strong in terms of service to skiing destinations with their Denver hub, which provides easy access to all of the popular I-70 Colorado ski resorts. One-stop air service from LCH to Denver is easy and inexpensive.”
When it comes to airport traffic, the statistics speak for themselves— a record-breaking October passenger total not seen since 1999, monthly passenger totals surpassing two decades, and enplanements up by a remarkable 43% over the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.
Behind the scenes, the airport is undergoing transformative projects and infrastructure developments. Departures and arrivals are adorned with new curb canopies, while all four gates now boast new passenger loading bridges, ready to support existing airlines and accommodate future growth.
“We’re excited about what has been completed and what is ahead for 2024,” says Allen.
Exciting additions include the forthcoming Fixed Base Operator/Freeman Jet Center—a new private aviation terminal set to open in December—and 16 new T-hangars developed privately. Hangars 3, 5, and 6 are on the horizon, with Hangar 3 set to be leased to Acadian AirMed. A parking expansion in 2024 and anticipated grants totaling over $12 million for improving the airport’s entrance and surface movement demonstrate a commitment to ensuring our airport remains at the forefront of aviation excellence.
As we eagerly await a new food and beverage operator for the terminal and the ongoing Airport Masterplan, set to conclude in late 2024, it is clear that our local airport is not just a transportation hub but a key player in shaping the economic and cultural landscape of our thriving community.