Thursday, January 08, 2015

Bidding on Macon air service extended: Middle Georgia Regional Airport (KMCN), Georgia

Bids to provide federally-subsidized passenger flights from Middle Georgia Regional Airport were due Thursday, but the deadline has been extended to Feb. 26.

Airport Manager Doug Faour said he wasn’t aware of any bids submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation, but he doesn’t think that means airlines have no intention of serving Macon passengers.

The key is finding an airline that will make enough local investment and commitment to offer a really viable service, he said.

“If we wanted to have an airline here for the sake of having an airline, we could have one,” Faour said.

Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore said an airline that offered only small planes would find it almost impossible to meet the 10 passenger per day standard that federal officials require to keep the local subsidy.

“Otherwise, they’re (a small airline) going away in a year or two,” Floore said.

Previously USDOT officials have warned that if passenger numbers don’t reach that level, the subsidy for passenger service will be permanently revoked.

Floore said until Feb. 26, Faour will market the Middle Georgia area to larger airlines, touting its passenger potential.

This past fall, Silver Airways, which got a $2 million annual subsidy for its flights from Macon to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and to Florida, announced that it would be pulling out of the program. Service actually ended Nov. 5.

Soon thereafter, the call went out for a new airline to serve the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.

Middle Georgia Regional is one of many smaller airports that qualifies for subsidized flights to Atlanta under the Essential Air Service program. Silver Airways began local service in April 2013, also providing flights to Orlando.

But like several previous carriers flying out of Middle Georgia Regional Airport, Silver never achieved the required passenger average. The USDOT warned Macon and 11 other airports that they might lose the funding, but on Sept. 26 gave them all a one-year reprieve.

For more on this story return to and read Friday’s Telegraph.

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