By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Silver Airways was going to begin selling tickets today for passengers looking to fly to Atlanta, but the airline is focusing on a few other new routes first.
While air service from Tupelo Regional Airport is still on track for an Oct. 1 start, ticket sales have been pushed back to Aug. 15.
“We have a large number of new routes we’re beginning today out of Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; Pennsylvania and West Virginia,” said Steve Bennett, a spokesman for the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based airline.
“Logistically, we wanted to be sure we were operating our new routes efficiently and effectively as possible,” he said. “So we decided to push back sales in Tupelo for a couple of weeks.”
Silver in May was tapped by the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide service for Tupelo, Greenville and Hattiesburg-Laurel in Mississippi, as well as for Muscle Shoals, Ala., and Lewisburg, W.Va.
Silver replaces Delta Air Lines, which last year said it was ending service from those communities to Memphis. The DOT, through its Essential Air Service program, had provided subsidies for Delta to continue service until a new carrier was found.
Silver will fly 34-passenger twin-engine Saab 340 turboprop planes, which long served Tupelo and other smaller airports across the state via Northwest Airlines, and eventually Delta, which merged with Northwest a few years ago.
Like Delta, Silver will receive EAS subsidies to provide service.
For a two-year, $16.1 million subsidy, Silver will provide 18 weekly round-trip flights between Tupelo and Atlanta – with a link with Greenville – and 12 weekly flights between Hattiesburg-Laurel and Atlanta. Silver also is providing 12 weekly flights between Muscle Shoals and Atlanta and 12 weekly flights between Lewisburg and Atlanta.
In June, Silver received its seventh Saab 340; the airline said it expects to have 12 of the planes operating by September.
Bennett said flyers looking to get tickets can wait until Aug. 15 before making a purchase.
But the Tupelo Regional Airport website, www.flytupelo.com, says passengers can buy tickets from Delta’s website now to lock in prices.
The airport’s website suggests, “If the switch from Delta to Silver is on schedule, your itinerary will be automatically updated and you’ll be notified by Delta or Silver at the time of the change of your flights.”
It also said customers should price new tickets to determine if they’re getting a better deal, as well as checking existing cancellation policies.
Also, passengers who bought tickets in advance from Tupelo to Memphis after Oct. 1 will need to update their itineraries since flights will connect to Atlanta instead starting Oct. 1.
FOR QUESTIONS about Silver’s service, visit Tupelo Regional Airport’s
website at www.flytupelo.com.