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$8M in Fabens airport improvements aimed at boosting El Paso County economy

FABENS, Texas — Large investments into the regional airport in Fabens are bringing much needed improvements that El Paso County hopes will spur economic and scientific growth in the border town. 

In the past three years, a combination of local, state, and federal funds have infused almost $8 million into the revamped airport. All of the improvements are intended to bring greater air traffic to the area in hopes it will boost the local economy. 

“They go into town and they spend money. They spend money at restaurants, they spend money at hotels,” Jose Landeros, the county’s director of planning and development, explained about the new pilots landing in Fabens. 

The makeover started with the main operations building, gutting the entire facility and upgrading the interior. Then the runway was repaved with a much darker coat, allowing pilots to see the destination from 15 to 20 miles away. The previous runway had a similar color to the desert surrounding it, creating difficulties for pilots to distinguish where they needed to land. 

The airport is also designing an automated weather system that will now give pilots the current conditions at the runway. In the past, the closest weather system pilots could get information from was El Paso International Airport, nearly 30 miles west of Fabens. 

The airport is looking to start selling jet fuel. Landeros says that the sales revenue from that fuel would allow the airport to support itself in the day to day operations alone, no longer would the county-owned airport need dollars from a general fund. 

But the biggest hopes for the airport is to become a research park facility for private companies. UTEP already utilizes space there for their aeronautical research. The university is also looking to start a flight school. 

The hope is that other companies who partner with UTEP in aeronautical research will see the opportunities the airport has to offer and will create a facility on location. 

“If those companies can attract here that’s new jobs, that’s new economic and commercial presence here at the airport, and ultimately that has a spill over effect into the larger economy that we can’t even begin to understand today,” Landeros explained. 

Landeros says the county has already met with companies such as defense contractor Raytheon about the airport. 

Alfredo Olivas, who has been the Fabens airport manager for the past 43 years, says he is excited the airport is finally getting some attention and investment, and looks forward to the future. 

“God knows what else is coming,” Olivas said with a smile. 

Dylan McKim

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