Silver Airways uses a SAAB 340 twin prop aircraft with a 34-passenger capacity. Silver replaces Delta, which stopped service to Tupelo under the federal Essential Air Service Program because it could not make money. Delta flew regional jets, but it previously had flown the SAAB 340.
Tupelo Regional Airport executive director Josh Abramson said Tuesday the morning flight to Atlanta was about 20 minutes late leaving – a variance some frequent fliers would consider normal for many airlines and airports.
On Monday, 13 paying passengers had reservations out of Tupelo, and Abramson said 17 complimentary tickets had been issued for city officials, media and airport board members from Greenville and Tupelo, but some of those could not fly because of the weather delay. The same situations postponed inaugural festivities in Muscle Shoals. Silver also began service Monday in Meridian, Greenville and Laurel-Hattiesburg.
Corporate officials within Silver obviously need to immediately get Silver’s Tupelo flights posted on all online ticketing sites. Abramson said Tuesday Tupelo was not listed on Travelocity, Kayak and Priceline, and that Delta’s connecting information was inconsistently available.
About 30 percent of the planes’ capacity is expected to be used in the early weeks of Silver’s operations, but airline officials told Abramson on Tuesday they expect 100 percent loads in three to four months.
Abramson said comparative figures make the case for flying from Tupelo to Atlanta for connections: Atlanta offers 169 non-stop flights to ultimate destinations daily; Memphis offers 54.
“It is a slow start, but it is something we can build on and we can grow on,” he said.
Abramson said he thinks most problems will have been ironed out in 30 days.
We hope Northeast Mississippians in and near Tupelo make an effort to use Silver, and if the experience is good, make note to airline and airport officials. If not, make the complaints clear and timely to the same people.