Hobbs-Lea County Regional Airport
The Lea County Regional Airport is a commercial airfield serving the cities of Hobbs and Lovington as well as other communities in Lea County, New Mexico. The airport has a control tower and three runways with the primary runway having a length of 7398 feet and able to handle large jet traffic. Hobbs currently receives air service by United Express with regional jet flights to Denver and Houston.
The airport was constructed in the early 1940’s and originally called the Hobbs Municipal Airport. On November 19, 1945, ownership of the airport was transferred from the city of Hobbs to Lea County. The terminal building was expanded and modernized in the mid 2000’s and then greatly expanded again in 2020. The original control tower on top of the building has been preserved. Previously Hobbs was served by the Me-Tex airport that opened on July 23, 1937 and was located just east of the current Lea County Regional Airport where the Hobbs golf course now exists.
Historical commercial airline service:
Commercial airline service began at Hobbs on May 11, 1940 when Continental Air Lines added a spur route off of their Denver to El Paso route where one flight in each direction was redirected at Albuquerque to operate by way of Roswell, Hobbs, and Carlsbad, New Mexico and then onto El Paso. Lockheed Electra and Lockheed Lodestar aircraft were first used then upgraded to Douglas DC-3’s within a few years. By the mid 1940’s a new route was added from Albuquerque, Roswell, and Hobbs to Midland, San Angelo, and San Antonio, Texas. A second new route was added from El Paso, Carlsbad, and Hobbs to Lubbock, Wichita Falls, Lawton, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Kansas City. Flights were timed to arrive and depart Hobbs simultaneously so that passenger could connect between the two routes. During this time, one flight was upgraded to a larger Convair aircraft. In 1955 Continental merged with Pioneer Airlines and obtained new routes into Dallas. The operation continued until November 5, 1963 when all service to southeastern New Mexico was transferred to Trans-Texas Airways (TTA). TTA began their service with routes to Albuquerque, El Paso, and Dallas using DC-3 aircraft but soon upgraded to much larger Convair 240 and Convair 600 turbo props. At times a nonstop flight to Dallas was operated. In 1969 TTA changed their name to Texas International Airlines (TI) and for a brief time in 1977/1978, TI tried going all jet and operated Douglas DC-9’s to Hobbs and throughout southeast New Mexico. The service was then switched back to Convair 600 aircraft with flights to Albuquerque only. All service ended at the beginning of 1979.
Bison Airlines, a commuter carrier, also came to Hobbs in 1963 providing flights to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, El Paso, and Midland using De Havilland Dove and Aero Commander aircraft however all service ended the following year.
Trans Central Airlines operated flights on an El Paso-Carlsbad-Hobbs-Lubbock route in 1970 using Cessna 402 aircraft.
Crown Airlines replaced Texas International Airlines at Hobbs with nonstop service to Albuquerque beginning on February 1, 1979 using Cessna 402 and Piper Navajo aircraft. Within a few months the flights began making a stop in Roswell and all service ended on January 17, 1980 when the carrier ceased operating.
Permian Airways briefly provided service in 1979 on an El Paso-Carlsbad-Hobbs-Midland/Odessa-San Angelo-San Antonio route. The carrier used Piper Navajo aircraft.
Air Midwest began service on March 1, 1979 with flights to Albuquerque and Lubbock using Swearingen Metroliner aircraft. The Lubbock flights were shifted to Midland/Odessa in 1982 and the flights to Albuquerque made a stop in either Carlsbad or Roswell. This carrier was selected to be the Essential Air Service (EAS) provider for Hobbs following the departure of Texas International and service continued for over five years before ending on November 14, 1984.
Mesa Airlines started serving Hobbs from Albuquerque and Lubbock on January 15, 1984 using Beech-99 aircraft. The Lubbock flights were shifted to Midland/Odessa later that year but ended in 1986. The Albuquerque flights also stopped at either Carlsbad or Roswell however nonstop flights were occasionally operated. Mesa was dedicated as the EAS provider after the departure of Air Midwest and all flights were upgraded to Beech-1900 aircraft during the 1990’s. Service continued for 23 and a half years before ending on June 30, 2007.
Big Sky Airlines briefly served Hobbs beginning on October 21, 2000 with Swearingen Metroliner aircraft on a route from Dallas/Fort Worth to Hobbs, Carlsbad, Roswell, Denver, and ending in Billings, Montana. The route was soon modified to operate only from DFW to Hobbs with a stop at Brownwood, Texas. All service ended in late 2001.
Pacific Wings/New Mexico Airlines was awarded the EAS authorization for service to Hobbs upon the departure of Mesa Airlines and began service on July 1, 2007 with flights to Albuquerque, stopping in Carlsbad. Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft were operated and flights to Midland/Odessa and El Paso were added in 2008 but discontinued after two years. All service ended in early 2011.
ExpressJet, operating as Continental Express on behalf of Continental Airlines, began service on July 1, 2011 with two daily nonstop flights to Houston using Embraer 145 regional jets. This service marked the return of representation by Continental Airlines, the original carrier to service Hobbs. Continental merged with United Airlines the following year at which time all flights began operating as United Express. ExpressJet service was replaced by SkyWest Airlines in late 2019/early 2020 then briefly resumed during mid-2020 during the start of Covid-19 pandemic before the airline shut down.
SkyWest Airlines began new United Express service from Hobbs to Denver on October 27, 2019. The carrier also replaced ExpressJet as the United Express operator to Houston on that date and all flights were flown using Canadair CRJ-200 regional jets. All service was transferred back to ExpressJet by April 1, 2020 and back to SkyWest again on September 16, 2020. The Denver flight was cancelled in March 2020 but reinstated on three days per week beginning on October 31, 2021.
CommuteAir took over all United Express service at Hobbs on June 3, 2022, replacing SkyWest Airlines. CommuteAir flies Embraer 145 regional jets, formerly operated by ExpressJet, on one daily flight to Houston and a flight on three days per week to Denver.
Air freight feeder service on behalf of UPS is provided by South Aero using Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft on one daily flight from Hobbs to Albuquerque. Service was previously provided by Ameriflight from September, 2014 through early 2019 using Beechcraft 99 aircraft.