Victoria Regional Airport (IATA: VCT, ICAO: KVCT, FAA LID: VCT) is a county owned, public use airport located five nautical miles (6 mi, 9 km) northeast of the central business district of Victoria, a city in Victoria County, Texas, United States. It is mostly used for military and general aviation, but is also served by one commercial airline with this scheduled passenger service being subsidized by the federal Essential Air Service (EAS) program.
As per Federal Aviation Administration records, the airport had 10,138 passenger boardings (enplanements) in calendar year 2007, 8,415 enplanements in 2008, 5,625 in 2009, and 5,038 in 2010. It is included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015, which categorized it as a non-primary commercial service airport based on enplanements in 2008 (between 2,500 and 10,000 per year).
Foster Field began as a United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) facility that was established in 1941 as an advanced single-engine flying school for fighter pilots. Originally known as Victoria Field, it was renamed in 1942 in memory of 1st Lt Arthur L. Foster, a United States Army Air Corps instructor killed in a crash at Brooks Field in 1925. Foster's son received his training and commission at the base in the spring of 1942.
After World War II, Foster Field was deactivated and the site was returned to its private owners, the Buhler and Braman estates. It was later reactivated as Foster Air Force Base, a U.S. Air Force installation of the Tactical Air Command (TAC) from 1951-1958, during which time it operated F-86 Sabre and F-100 Super Sabre fighter aircraft and served as Headquarters for 19th Air Force (19 AF). The base closed in December 1958 and formally inactivated in January 1959.
The local economy suffered greatly from the closure of Foster AFB. In the summer of 1960, the General Services Administration approved the exchange of Aloe Field for Foster Field, and Victoria County Airport was moved to the latter site. The growth of the county airport slowly replaced the loss of Foster AFB as numerous businesses located there.
Two of the largest businesses to locate at Victoria County Airport were the Devereux Foundation, a therapeutic-education center, and Gary Aircraft, which repaired surplus C-54 Skymaster (military version of the Douglas DC-4) aircraft in 1968.
In 1976 Foster became the site of the Victoria Regional Airport, which currently provides scheduled passenger service with connections to major air carriers at Austin (AUS) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).
Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) and its successor Texas International Airlines served Victoria for over 20 years. In 1949, Trans-Texas was operating 21-seat Douglas DC-3 aircraft (which the airline called "Starliners") into the airport with an intrastate routing of Houston Hobby Airport - Victoria - Beeville - San Antonio - Uvalde - Eagle Pass - Carrizo Springs - Laredo - McAllen - Harlingen - Brownsville. In the fall of 1966, Trans-Texas was operating five departures a day with DC-3 aircraft with three nonstops to Houston Hobby and two nonstops to San Antonio with direct, no change of plane DC-3 service being flown from Victoria to Dallas Love Field (DAL), Midland/Odessa, San Angelo, TX, Jackson, MS, Lake Charles, LA, Alexandria, LA, Fort Polk, LA, Lufkin, TX and Longview, TX. By August 1968, TTa was operating all flights into Victoria with 40-seat Convair 600 turboprops with nonstop service to Houston Hobby (HOU), Harlingen and McAllen as well as direct, no change of plane international service to Tampico and Veracruz in Mexico. Trans-Texas then changed its name to Texas International which in 1970 was flying 15-seat Beechcraft 99 commuter turboprops nonstop to Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH).
Texas International then ceased all flights into Victoria with its service being replaced by Metro Airlines operating de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter commuter turboprops to Houston Intercontinental during the 1970s and early 1980s with up to seven nonstop flights a day. By the mid 1980s, Metro Airlines had entered into a code sharing agreement with Eastern Air Lines in order to provide passenger feed for Eastern at Houston Intercontinental and was serving Victoria as Eastern Express with up to seven flights a day to IAH operated with Twin Otter aircraft.
By the late 1980s, Continental Airlines was operating a hub at Houston Intercontinental with service into Victoria being flown by Britt Airways operating as Continental Express with five flights every weekday to IAH being operated with 30-seat Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia propjets. Continental Express would continue to serve the airport during the 1990s and by the end of the decade was operating 19-seat Beechcraft 1900 commuter turboprops on the route to IAH in addition to the Embraer Brasilia aircraft. By 2007, Colgan Air flying as Continental Connection was operating two flights a day to IAH with 34-seat Saab 340B turboprops. Continental was eventually merged into United Airlines and code sharing flights to Houston Intercontinental airport were discontinued.
Sun Air Express operated scheduled passenger service to Houston Intercontinental via a two-year federal Essential Air Service (EAS) contract; however, this commuter air carrier then ceased all service between the airport and IAH on October 31, 2014.
Service to Houston (IAH) would be restarted via Texas Sky Airlines with one round trip flight operated daily except on Saturdays with this service being operated at the present time. Texas Sky also operates a round trip flight between the airport and Austin daily except on Saturdays. Texas Sky previously operated a flight to Dallas/Fort Worth via an intermediate stop in Austin; however, this direct service to DFW was later discontinued. This commuter air carrier operates British Aerospace Jetstream propjets.
Victoria Regional Airport covers an area of 1,766 acres (715 ha) at an elevation of 115 feet (35 m) above mean sea level. It has four runways: 12L/30R is 9,111 by 150 feet (2,777 x 46 m) with an asphalt surface; 12R/30L is 4,643 by 150 feet (1,415 x 46 m) with a concrete surface; 17/35 is 4,908 by 75 feet (1,496 x 23 m) with an asphalt surface; 6/24 is 4,200 by 75 feet (1,280 x 23 m) with an asphalt surface. It also has one helipad designated H1 which measures 60 by 60 feet.
For the 12-month period ending May 30, 2009, the airport had 45,627 aircraft operations, an average of 125 per day: 64% military, 30% general aviation, 3% scheduled commercial, and 3% air taxi. At that time there were 39 aircraft based at this airport: 80% single-engine, 15% multi-engine, 3% jet, and 3% helicopter.
The following airline offers scheduled passenger service: