Saturday, April 26, 2014

Shoals’ Essential Air Service status in jeopardy

MUSCLE SHOALS — Northwest Alabama Regional Airport Director Barry Griffith is optimistic the Shoals will retain its eligibility in the Essential Air Service Program, despite receiving a termination notice from the U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday.

The notice has been anticipated for some time.

Passenger traffic has dropped significantly since Silver Airways began serving the Shoals on Oct. 1, 2012. The airline provides 12 weekly flights to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The Shoals must maintain an average of 10 passengers per day to be in compliance with its EAS contract. Griffith said the airport is averaging only 6.3 passengers per day.

The airport director said the Shoals has 20 days to “show cause” why the Transportation Department should not terminate its EAS eligibility.

“We’re going to challenge the termination notice,” Griffith said. “We will be asking for a waiver.”