AUSTIN (KXAN) - With South by Southwest only a couple of weeks away, thousands of visitors are set to descend on Austin.
But the journey is pretty hectic for some travelers as they are forced to go through another airport hub like Houston or Dallas before they can land at Austin-Bergstom International Airport.
This is Jeff Gingold's first trip to Austin. He flew in from New York for his cousin's wedding.
"He's an Army captain long-time stationed at Fort Hood," Gingold said. "I've looked forward to it. I've always wanted to visit Texas."
But his trek to get here was much longer than expected.
"I went from New York to Houston and from Houston I came to Austin," Gingold said. "I missed my original flight by minutes, and they moved me to the next flight over..."
Gingold wanted to fly direct, but he couldn't find a flight. There are only 37 non-stop flights in and out of Austin right now. Only two carriers fly directly to New York City-area airports, and none of the airlines fly direct international flights. South by Southwest officials say that's a problem.
"Our attendees do get frustrated by having to change planes in Dallas or Houston or Atlanta or Chicago because it tacks a couple hours onto their travel time," said executive director Mike Shea. "Austin could easily use two or three times the number of non-stops that currently serve the city."
The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce agrees, which is why it has created a special task force to help ABIA make the case to the country's airlines.
"We believe that Austin is in its growth, and trajectory is really in a sufficient place where we can be an ideal location for one of the carriers to do that," said Susan Davenport of the chamber. "It's estimated that there are $200 million of economic impact that can occur in the first year or two as the flight gets up and running."
The Chamber hopes more non-stop flights are on the way, especially with an international event like Formula One in November. But the decision is ultimately up to the airlines.
If carriers start running more direct flights, ABIA will be an even better airport, Gingold said.
"Well, my first impression was a good one because I came off and everybody was friendly," Gingold said.
If you're wondering how they can call the airport Austin-Bergstrom International Airport without an international passenger flight, it's because it has international flights for cargo.
But there is a positive development for the airport -- it will have a direct flight to Cancun starting in May.
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