By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – For the third month in a row, Tupelo Regional Airport boarded at least 1,200 passengers, a streak that hasn’t been matched since April-June of last year.
And August’s 1,345 boardings were the most since 1,866 boardings in June 2009.
But the pattern likely will end this month with a cut in the number of weekly flights.
Last week, Tupelo Regional was reduced to 15 weekly flights, down from 21.
Delta Air Lines, which provides air service through a regional carrier, Pinnacle Airlines/Delta Connection, now receives a federal subsidy through the Essential Air Service Program.
Last year, Delta said it could no longer provide air service in Tupelo unless it got the subsidy; it was granted the subsidy earlier this summer.
In June, city and airport officials started a “Fly Tupelo” promotion to encourage people to fly from the airport, which just four years ago posted a record 31,334 boardings.
But the recession hammered the airlines, as did several schedule changes. The number of daily flights dropped from as many as six to as few as two. It has wreaked havoc on the numbers at Tupelo Regional.
Last year, boardings fell to 13,088, the fewest since the mid-1980s. Delta had three daily flights from Tupelo for the first six months of 2009. From July of last year until June 10 of this year, only two daily flights were available.
A third daily flight returned, helping boost the airports numbers through last month.
With the subsidy, Delta now offers 15 weekly flights to and from Memphis from Tupelo: three daily flights on Mondays, Thursday and Friday; two flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; and one flight on Saturdays and Sundays.