As expected, the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered Silver Airways to extend air service in Tupelo through Sept. 5.
Silver said in April it was not going to seek renewal of its Essential Air Service contract, and submitted a 90-day “notice of termination.”
The Transportation Department then ordered Silver to continue service in Tupelo, as well as Greenville, Hattiesburg/Laurel, Meridian and Muscle Shoals through today. The 30-day extension ordered today keeps Silver flying to Atlanta for those cities.
Meridian and Laurel/Hattiesburg, meanwhile, will get new air service starting Nov. 1 with Express Jet.
Tupelo is awaiting word if its recommendation for SeaPort Airlines will be accepted by DOT. That decision is imminent, airport officials say.
The order states:
A new air carrier has not been selected to provide replacement EAS at Tupelo, but we expect that decision in the very near future. Since a new air carrier will not replace Silver’s service at Laurel/Hattiesburg, Meridian, and Tupelo before the August 6, 2014 hold-in date, we must extend Silver’s service obligation for an additional 30 days, or until replacement service begins, whichever occurs first, in accordance with 49 U.S.C. § 41734(c).
Those three cities are in better shape than Greenville and Muscle Shoals. While these two cities will get service through Sept. 5 as well, they’re in danger of losing air service altogether by not meeting EAS requirements. Explains the DOT:
Order 2014-6-6, June 24, 2014, Greenville and Muscle Shoals’ eligibility for EAS was terminated because the communities did not generate 10 enplanements per day as required by 49 U.S.C. § 41731(a)(1)(B). Both communities have filed petitions for a waiver from the requirement. Those were due July 24, 2014. The Department is currently reviewing their petitions. If either or both communities are granted a waiver, the Department will make a carrier selection after that determination has been made. During this time, we will continue to hold Silver in to provide EAS at both communities, in accordance with 49 U.S.C. § 41734(c).