Two years ago, it seemed Silver Airways was the best airline to throw our support behind, as it promised good service and good prices.
No need to go back through that failed experiment, but hopefully we’ve lived and learned from that mistakes.
Sadly, Tupelo has lost a good bit of the flying public’s confidence – and business – because of Silver’s troubles.
Now we have four airlines offering their services to replace Silver. You can read more about their proposals in the story next to this column.
Tupelo Regional Airport Executive Director Josh Abramson isn’t ready to pick a favorite yet, as he’s going through the numbers and details of what each airline is offering.
But know this: All of the airlines are little more than shuttle services through the air. They’ll fly you to a hub – Memphis, Nashville or Atlanta – where you’ll have to hop onto a connecting flight of your choice.
Three of the airlines – Air Choice One, SeaPort Airlines and Sun Air – were interested two years go, but lost out to Silver.
Air Choice One CEO Shane Storz said this time around, Tupelo is in better position to look at flying in smaller planes like the nine-passenger Cessna Grand Caravan his airline uses.
“I think the experience Tupelo had with their last carrier selection, which had bigger planes, might not be the answer today,” he said. “Proving that just having more seats available on the plane might not always be superior to having a smaller plane that can give a community more frequency.”
He also said that pricing will overcome many objections to hopping onto a smaller plane.
“There is not much convincing needed with the airfares we will offer because price gets anyone to try it and once they try it they love it and tell everyone they know about it,” he said.
While Air Choice One’s fares aren’t listed on its proposal, they’re likely similar to SeaPort’s, which has tickets priced from $39 to $99 one way.
Rob McKinney, president of SeaPort Airlines, said. “Tupelo can expect low, stable and predictable fares. Additionally, the community will be able to rely on our service to run and run on time. Lastly, Tupelo can expect SeaPort to become a part of the community just as we have in the other communities we serve.”
SeaPort also will use Grand Caravans, which McKinney pointed out were still being built, unlike the Saab 340 used by Silver.
“This means that our aircraft remains on the cutting edge of new developments, and parts availability is never a problem,” he said. “Our aircraft are piloted by two professionally trained crew members just like Tupelo has now.”
Abramson said it’s important to get the public’s input on what it’s looking for in an air service provider.
The airport has a survey posted on its website at www.flytupelo.com, and Abramson’s email and phone number are listed on the site as well.
Tupelo is fortunate to have four airlines bidding for service; some cities have only one. For now, there are only promises that the airlines will provide better service and reliability.
But really, can it get any worse?
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.