TUPELO – Silver Airways has agreed to reduce the number of round-trip flights between Greenville, Tupelo and Atlanta, as requested by the mayors and airport officials of the Mississippi cities a couple of weeks ago.
The new schedule will begin March 3, but details still are being worked out. Tupelo Regional Airport Executive Director Josh Abramson said he’ll meet officials with the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based regional airline on Thursday to get additional information.
The number of flights will be cut from 36 round-trip flights a week to 24.
Tupelo’s and Greenville’s mayors had written a letter to Silver last month requesting the airline reduce the number of round-trip flights in order to improve service.
The service has been plagued by cancellations and delays. While there was improvement during the summer months, officials say reliability again worsened the last few months of 2013.
Abramson had said cutting the number of flights could improve reliability of Silver Airways, which has been providing service between Greenville, Tupelo and Atlanta since October 2012.
Passenger boardings have steadily declined. In Tupelo, they fell to 5,331 last year, a 31 percent drop from a year earlier and the lowest total in some three decades.
In January, it was another sub par result, with only 340 boardings. That’s a 7 percent drop compared to a year earlier.
Silver receives an annual subsidy of about $7 million from the Essential Air Service program.
Abramson said new regulations for commercial pilots requiring them to have more rest time between flights has stretched an already-thin piloted fleet in Silver. A reduced schedule – from 36 round-trip flights a week to 24 – would help relieve Silver’s pilot shortage.