As expected, the U.S. Department of Transportation has selected SeaPort Airlines to provide air service for Tupelo.
SeaPort begins its two-year contract once it determines when to launch its service in Tupelo. Officials hope it can begin in October, but details still are being worked out between between SeaPort , outgoing provider Silver Airways, Tupelo Regional Airport and the Transportation Department.
Meanwhile, Greenville and Muscle Shoals, will be losing Silver service on Oct. 1, and will have to wait on DOT’s decision in choosing an airline for their cities.
As for the All-America City, Tupelo Regional Airport Executive Director Josh Abramson said, “We are excited that SeaPort will be providing air service to the community. I expect that SeaPort will let us know soon the start date and how they plan to phase in air service with each connecting city.”
Indeed, a modification in the service schedule may be made when it begins in Tupelo. While SeaPort’s bid included 18 nonstop round trips per week to Nashville and 12 round trips to Memphis, the airline may phase in its service by providing to a single city – either Memphis or Nashville – in the early going.
Highlights of the decision:
By this Order, the Department is 1) selecting SeaPort Airlines, Inc. (SeaPort), to provide Essential Air Service (EAS) at Tupelo, Mississippi, using 9-passenger Cessna Grand Caravan (Cessna) aircraft with 18 nonstop round trips per week to Nashville International Airport (BNA) and 12 nonstop round trips per week to Memphis International Airport (MEM). The annual subsidy is $2,506,436, for a two-year term from October 1, 2014, through September 30, 2016;1 and 2) deferring action at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and Greenville, Mississippi, until further Order from the Department.
….. We expect Silver and SeaPort to work together to make a smooth transition at both communities. In that regard, before Silver suspends its service, we expect it to notify all passengers holding reservations for travel after the suspension date, to assist those passengers in making alternate air transportation arrangements, or to provide a refund of the ticket price, without penalty, if requested.
By Order 2012-5-17 (May 22, 2012) the Department selected Silver Airways (Silver) at Tupelo to provide 18 nonstop round trips per week to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) using 34-passenger Saab 340 aircraft for an annual subsidy of $3,522,398.2 On April 9, 2014, Silver filed a 90-day notice of its intention to terminate scheduled air service at Tupelo. As a result of this notification, the Department issued Order 2014-4-24 prohibiting Silver from terminating service and requesting proposals from air carriers interested in providing EAS at the community for a new term.3 In response to that Order, four air carriers submitted proposals: Aerodynamics, Inc. (ADI), Multi-Aero, Inc. d/b/a Air Choice One (Air Choice One), SeaPort, and Sun Air Express, LLC d/b/a Sun Air International (Sun Air).