When people think of Galveston, they think of beaches, sun, surf, seafood, The Strand, and — if you’re taking a tour of the island — The Storm of 1900.

Very rarely do people talk about aviation. After talking to several prominent establishments in Galveston, little is known by those in the tourism market that a share of their clients could fly into Galveston instead of Houston or Sugar Land.

Even though Scholes International Airport has runways that once accommodated the airline pioneers who led the way for our modern companies like Delta and Southwest, little is known that the airport still exists. Not only that, but the U.S. Army designated Scholes as one of its premier strategic locations during World War II.

In the world of COVID-19, passengers aren’t stepping onto airliners like they did before the pandemic threw the airline industry into park. However, the private aviation industry has gained a head of steam like never. In fact, the major airlines are now swallowing up private charter companies by the dozen to accommodate those passengers who are not yet comfortable flying with a crowd.

In 2008, when the city of Galveston reeled from a 12-foot storm surge, the airport terminal barely kept its walls up, and trapped fish wriggled in the chain links of the surrounding fence.

Nothing 11-foot tall survived. But much like the whole city, the airport kept going. It kept growing as well.

Unfortunately, in the travel world, Galveston most often sits in the shadow of the bright lights of Hobby and Intercontinental airports. However, there’s a ton of potential.

For example, Galveston’s airport supplies a perfect opportunity for air brokers to drop their cargo directly at Scholes Field, load it up on a truck, and haul it to the seaport. Planes flying coast to coast from California and other western U.S. states to Florida will find Galveston a perfect spot for a midpoint refueling.

Internationally, Galveston sits closer to Mexico and Central and South America, so planes flying into America can stop for customs clearance at Scholes Field. In addition, the cruise lines will be starting up again, hopefully sooner than later.

Cruise passengers fly into Houston from all over the United States, jump into a shuttle bus, then drive in close quarters with every other passenger for over an hour to get to Royal Caribbean, Carnival or Disney cruises.

What if the major airlines brought flights back to Galveston? It’s more than a possibility. It would save money all around, and it would add revenue to the island.

Scholes is more than a piece of history, but an ongoing and active reminder that the travel industry didn’t stop with World War II or Hurricane Ike. It’s still going, and it’s going strong. While Galveston has recovered from the storms of the past, Scholes Field has enormous potential. The possibilities are endless, and the future looks bright.

Jon Tucker lives in Galveston.

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