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SeaPort to provide Tupelo with air service

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TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — SeaPort Airlines will provide new air passenger service in Tupelo.

The U.S. Department of Transportation this week selected the Portland, Oregon-based carrier a two-year contract paying $2.5 million annually.

Local officials hope service can begin in October. Details still are being worked out between SeaPort, outgoing provider Silver Airways, Tupelo Regional Airport and the federal agency.

"I expect that SeaPort will let us know soon the start date and how they plan to phase in air service with each connecting city," Tupelo Regional Airport Executive Director Josh Abramson told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (http://bit.ly/1q7FtaACu )

Government officials are still reviewing proposals for new subsidized air service in Greenville and Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The two cities must wait on the Transportation Department's decision in choosing an airline for their cities, which are in danger of losing service all together because they haven't met passenger number requirements.

Silver Airways, which announced in April it was ending service to those cities, is providing air service through Nov. 1.

Greenville and Muscle Shoals, Alabama have recommended SeaPort as well.

Meridian and Laurel/Hattiesburg, meanwhile, will get new air service starting Nov. 1 with Express Jet.

In Tupelo, SeaPort's bid included 18 nonstop round trips per week to Nashville and 12 round trips to Memphis. The airline may phase-in its service by providing to a single city — either Memphis or Nashville — in the early going.

The Transportation Department said in its announcement it expects Silver and SeaPort to work together to make a smooth transition.

"In that regard, before Silver suspends its service, we expect it to notify all passengers holding reservations for travel after the suspension date, to assist those passengers in making alternate air transportation arrangements, or to provide a refund of the ticket price, without penalty, if requested," the agency said.

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com

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