TUPELO – As expected, the U.S. Department of Transportation has ordered Silver Airways to continue service to five markets – including Tupelo – after the airline announced two weeks ago its intent to end service there.
The other affected cities are Muscle Shoals, Ala.; and in Mississippi, Greenville, Meridian and Laurel/Hattiesburg.
Silver gave its required 90-day termination of service notice on April 9, but the DOT has officially ordered the Fort Lauderdale-based airline to continue service another 30 days, through Aug. 7.
The DOT selected Silver in 2012 to pick up service abandoned by Delta Air Lines, which also has been receiving federal Essential Air Service subsidies to provide service. Silver began service to the five markets on Oct. 1, 2012, and its two-year contract would have ended Sept. 30 of this year.
For the two-year service, DOT gave Silver a combined annual subsidy of $12,613,828 ($2,603,365 for Muscle Shoals, $7,044,796 for Greenville and Tupelo, and $2,965,667 for Laurel/Hattiesburg). In addition, the Department later selected Silver to provide service to Meridian for an annual subsidy of $2,417,808. Meanwhile, airlines interested in submitting bids to provide service – subsidized or unsubsidized – in Tupelo and the other markets have until May 19 to submit their “final and only” proposals to DOT.
For Tupelo, the DOT said it “expects proposals similar” to what it receives now “using 30-passenger or larger” aircraft to a large or medium hub. For the All-America City, proposals should be for at least 12 weekly nonstop round trips or 18 weekly one-stop round trips.
Also, DOT said it will accept proposals consisting of additional trips if smaller aircraft – nine-passenger planes, or example – are submitted.