Passenger rate steady at Tupelo airport

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The “Fly Tupelo” campaign launched by the Tupelo Regional Airport seems to be working.
Last month the airport funneled through 1,288 passengers, nearly matching the 1,298 who boarded a month earlier.
It marked the first time since June and July of last year that the airport flew more than 1,000 passengers back to back.
Airport and city officials in June kicked off the “Fly Tupelo” promotion to encourage people to fly from the airport, which has seen boardings plummet since a record year in 2006.
With Delta Air Lines seeking subsidized air service, local leaders said fliers could demonstrate to the airline the city could support commercial air service.
July’s boardings were 22 percent higher than a year earlier. The increase was the first time since June 2009 that boardings were higher than the previous year’s figure.
But Delta had three daily flights from Tupelo for the first six months of last year. From July until June 10 of this year, only two daily flights were available.
Josh Abramson, the executive director of Tupelo Regional, said having three daily flights, the marketing campaign and the airport’s enhanced website have been factors in better numbers the past two months, with 85 percent of traffic coming via the website.
But how long the increased boardings hold up should be answered soon.
The three daily flights that have been flying out of Tupelo since mid-June drop back to two after Sept. 7.
The U.S. Department of Transportation this summer agreed to subsidize 15 weekly flights from Tupelo through the Essential Air Service program. That means two flights a day from Tupelo six days a week and three flights one day. If Tupelo wants that third flight the other six days, Delta would have to absorb the cost, and the airline has indicated in the past that it is not a profitable flight.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.