A Comment By Joe Lee III
Last week, Silver Airways filed termination notice that it is pulling out of Greenville, Hattiesburg, Meridian, and Tupelo.
Silver had started service at these airports in October 2012, when Delta pulled out.
This further highlights a continuing transportation problem for small, rural airports and communities.
Larger airports, like former Delta hub Memphis, are facing problems that are spilling over into North Mississippi economic development and growth.
According to HoddyToddy.com, Delta’s flights in and out of Memphis have declined from about 250 to about 50 daily.
“One of the reasons Toyota located its plant in Bay Springs near Tupelo was the availability of the Memphis International Airport,” according to Doug Formby, vice president of production and administration for the Blue Springs plant. “The decline of the airport will have a major impact on Toyota, and I suspect this will affect the future economic development of North Mississippi.
“We fly executives in and out all of the time. This decline means greater difficulty in getting people in and out and higher cost. If we decide to expand, this will be critical as we bring in many people for any expansion,” Formby added in a December posting on HottyToddy.
As an example of what the loss of the Delta hub has done, one Mid-South traveler told us that he recently wanted to go to Ft. Lauderdale from North Mississippi.
He was late purchasing the tickets, and when he checked Memphis, the cost was about $1,200 per family member. He checked Atlanta and the cost was $400. Ironically, the second leg of the Memphis flight was on the same plane! He drove to Atlanta and went non-stop to Lauderdale in one day. He was on a tight schedule, and driving all the way would have taken two days each way.
If it weren’t for FedEx, the Memphis airport would be a ghost town.
In January, Southwest announced it would quit flying out of the Jackson airport in early June.
This means Jackson will lose direct service to Houston-Hobby, Chicago-Midway, and Orlando. Delta and American will be the only airlines serving the capital city.
In 2012 airline profits were $7.6 billion, according to IATA (International Air Transportation Association), but profits have declined recently due to rising costs of fuel.