By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The U.S. Department of Transportation will start looking soon for a new airline to service Tupelo after Delta Air Lines on Friday said it could no longer afford to service the market.
But the airport leadership was quick to reassure passengers.
“Service from Delta will not stop until a replacement carrier begins service,” said Josh Abramson, executive director of Tupelo Regional Airport. “Your airline tickets are safe and air service will continue.”
Delta said it has lost $14 million annually in Tupelo and in 23 other markets that made Friday’s list of cuts.
The airline cited weak demand, added costs and a change in aircraft as the reasons behind the decision.
Delta said Tupelo’s flights are 41 percent full, compared to the national average of 83 percent in 2010.
The airline already is receiving federal subsidies to service Tupelo. Delta has a two-year, $974,000 annual contract to provide 15 weekly flights to and from Memphis.
In Friday’s announcement, Delta said it would need additional subsidies to service the listed markets with its fleet of larger regional jets.
“They either want more money or somebody else to come in,” Abramson said. “I don’t think Delta is going to be serving this market even with more money. It’s going to be a change in air service.”
The change won’t come for months, he said. Several airlines look like they would be a good fit to service Tupelo, he said, but he declined to give names.