Federally subsidized airline ordered to continue service


GOVERNMENT PAPER FOR SILVER: Silver Airways receives millions in government subsidies annually.

By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog

A federally subsidized airline serving several small airports in Mississippi and Alabama will stay put for the time being.

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued an order Tuesday requiring Silver Airways to continue its service under the Essential Air Service to Hattiesburg-Laurel, Meridian, Greenville and Tupelo airports in Mississippi and the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport in Muscle Shoals, Ala. According to the order, Silver’s service will continue until a new carrier is selected and in place.

The order says proposals from carriers to take over service to the airports are due by May 19.

The federally subsidized airline announced earlier this month it filed a 90-day notice with the DOT to leave the airports under the terms of the EAS, which provided Silver with a $15 million subsidy to serve the airports.

MISSISSIPPI IS A BARGAIN: Compared to some of the other Southeastern states involved in the Essential Air Service program, the four Magnolia State airports are a bargain.

Silver blamed the need for its departure from the airports on low enplanements (boarding passengers), new regulations on flight crew rest and another rule enacted in 2013 that requires first officer (co-pilot) hires to have a minimum of 1,500 flying hours. The rule has created a large shortage of airline pilots.

Contact Steve Wilson at swilson@watchdog.org
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