Silver Airways leaving Miss. airports

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News,Business

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Regional carrier Silver Airways is pulling out of four airports in Mississippi — Greenville, Hattiesburg, Meridian and Tupelo — and Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Silver began providing connections service to those areas in October 2012, stepping into the void when Delta Air Lines announced in 2011 that it intended to drop 24 routes in smaller markets across the nation. Silver Airways, a regional carrier based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was awarded the routes as the Essential Air Service subsidy jumped from about $1.4 million annually to about $2.9 million

Silver Airways filed a 90-day Notice of Termination with the U.S. Department of Transportation. All of Silver's flights connect through Atlanta.

"This is something we've been anticipating for the last two months. Basically, what this means for Greenville is that the airline no longer wants to serve Greenville, but they will until a replacement is found," Greenville Mid-Delta Airport director Draylan Gant said Wednesday.

Hattiesburg-Laurel Airport Executive Director Tom Heanue said he received a call from airline officials Wednesday afternoon.

"I have been expecting this," Heanue said. "Now, all we can do is wait and see who bids when the (Department of Transportation's) 'Request for Proposals' is issued."

Silver Airways spokeswoman Misty Pinson said the last day of service to the airports "is dependent on discussions with the DOT and other business partners."

Silver Airways is pulling out of the markets as part of a "plan to strengthen operations, increase revenue, reduce costs and better position the airline for future growth and other opportunities," a company press states.

Tupelo Regional Airport Executive Director Josh Abramson said Silver will continue to fly its 12-flights-per-week schedule in Tupelo until a suitable replacement is found. Abramson said the airport will have a webpage dedicated to the process in which a new carrier will be selected.

Meridian Airport Authority President Tom Williams said Silver's decision "starts the process in the Department of Transportation to begin bidding for new service."

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