Government keeps Middle Georgia Regional Airport in federal funding program

0
28
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A new airline could be coming to the Middle Georgia Regional Airport. Earlier this year, the federal government considered pulling its funding, but airport officials fought to keep commercial flights flying out of Macon.

For the past 60 years, you could catch a commercial flight out of the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.

"If you look back at the history of the Middle Georgia Regional Airport, back in the 70s and 80s. pre-deregulation and even after deregulation, we had really good numbers,” airport manager Doug Faour said.

The airport is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program, which helps pay for commercial airlines to fly out of small communities. It must meet certain requirements, including at least 10 people boarding a plane per day. But the numbers didn’t add up from October 2012 through September 2013.

"We wanted to show them was we have a history of providing decent numbers and one year is just not, which happened to be our worst year ever, the best time to monitor what we can do,” Faour said.

In June, the government told the airport it was no longer an eligible community. Faour petitioned the decision, explaining there was a temporary decline in numbers because of poor service with Pacific Wings airlines. This commercial carrier ended serviced in March 2013. Silver Airways came in and the numbers went up.

Last week, Faour found out the airport was staying in the program. He adds there is a market for commercial flights in Middle Georgia.

"The study showed there are 1.1 million passengers that came from our area that are leaking to other airports."

With this good news, the airport can start working with the government to find a new airline service. Silver Airways is pulling out in November.

"We’re hoping for a name that is recognized by our community, an airline that they’re familiar with, obviously an airline that is DOD certified that can provide service for the base, and we’re looking for a routine schedule that makes send for people to use and good equipment,” Faour said.

Faour is excited for the opportunity.

"This could mean a really big change in air service in Middle Georgia."

Silver Airways is scheduled to stop flying out of Macon on November 5th. Faour says the federal government will start taking bids for a new airline soon.