Cotulla Airport History
The Cotulla Municipal Airport was constructed in 1947 with two crossing runways and served as an emergency airfield for military training aircraft in the area. The airport was noted for its FAA Flight Service Station providing weather and pilot briefings until 1982 when it closed along with many other FSS locations. There never was a full-time business at the airport but there was intermittent activity. Decades ago there was even a small commuter airline that briefly offered service between Laredo and San Antonio with a stop in Cotulla. The airport gradually declined over the years until there was a single short (3,300') runway with numerous potholes, no runway lights, no fuel or other services, and was unattended. The City seriously considered closing the airport.
In 1988, the situation improved dramatically when the local Economic Development Committee persuaded the City, County and current operator, E. T. Page, to enter into a lease agreement and airport management contract to improve the airport and provide services to the public, especially to hunters and ranchers. The airport became the Cotulla-La Salle County Airport at that time. Improving the airport became a joint effort by the entire community.
Improvements started immediately. The operator established his residence on the airport for better security and customer service. The runway was repaired to the extent possible and trees and brush were cleared away from the runway edges out to a safe distance. The old FSS building was renovated and converted into an office and terminal, and the runway lights were repaired. The operator also constructed a hangar, opened an aircraft maintenance shop, and began selling both Avgas and Jet-A fuel which was a first for the airport. Traffic improved steadily as pilots learned the airport was attended and services were available.
In 1991, the Texas Department of Aviation noted the substantial traffic growth and approved a $1.8 million Airport Capital Improvement Project for a longer and wider runway (to 4,000'x60') and doubled the aircraft parking area. That project was completed in 1992. The operator also doubled the size of the aircraft hangar at that time.
The next goal was to obtain a 5,000'x75' runway for jet aircraft, but the 4,000' runway was too short to provide the jet traffic TxDOT-Aviation required to approve this request. In 1996 the runway was extended to 4,600' using local resources in order to generate some jet traffic. Enough jets were then able to land to satisfy TxDOT-Aviation's requirements and the airport received approval for a $2.9 million project which included a 5,005' runway and additional parking.
After this project was completed in 2005, the airport recorded a 50% increase in large aircraft traffic during the first year, and each subsequent year had similar growth. Soon many jets were landing at Cotulla that were larger than the airport was designed to accommodate. In 2009, TxDOT-Aviation noted this growth and approved our request for a 6,005' runway, parallel taxiway and still more aircraft parking. This approval was received well before the Eagle Ford Shale was even discovered, and traffic since then has more than doubled again.
Local funding for Cotulla's share of this project was unavailable until 2011 and then other delays prevented construction from starting until early 2014. The airport was able to remain open with relatively few operational restrictions throughout most of the construction process and the project was completed in mid-2015.
This project was the largest general aviation project in the state during that fiscal year, and firmly established the Cotulla Airport as the aviation hub for the entire area.
E. T. Page III