Sunday, June 12, 2016

Contour continues to live up to promise

Kathryn's Report:

When Contour Airlines said it would do whatever it takes to provide air service in Tupelo, it would be fair to say they were met with some fair bit of skepticism, a roll of the eyes.

“Here we go again,” many thought.

For good reason, though. After all, we had heard the same before from other airlines who promised good service and reliability.

And we painfully remember what we got: the two previous airlines over-promised and under-delivered. This would be our third airline in four years. Our expectations were low.

The results: People opted to drive elsewhere to fly to where they wanted to go. Columbus, Memphis, Birmingham, Nashville.

But with some 5,000 tickets sold so far this year after beginning service April 5, Contour seems to be doing just fine.

Yes, the $19 one-way promotional ticket kicked things off nicely. But there’s also currently a $29 promotion for certain flights to entice more travelers.

And let’s be honest – most of the seats are being taken by people who are using Contour as an air taxi to get to Nashville. These are people flying to Nashville, spending a day or two, then flying back. But there also are some business travelers making connections in Nashville to get to their next stop.

It would be great if more business travelers got on board, pardon the pun. I know many people wanted a connection to Atlanta, but that’s just not an option for now. We could have picked an airline that offered a single-engine Cessna to fly to Atlanta, but the consensus was that people preferred the twin-engine Jetstream Contour offered instead.

And by Contour’s reckoning – and the Tupelo Regional Airport – Nashville isn’t exactly a small hub.

With nearly 400 flights a day and more than 11 million passengers a year, somebody is flying out of Nashville International, it seems. They’re going to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, and yes, Atlanta. They’re using American, Delta, Frontier, Jetblue, Southwest and United.

Contour just wants us to give them a shot, and they’re Doing their part so far to get us aboard. They’ve kept a spare plane in Tupelo, they’re buying fuel in Tupelo and most importantly, they’re getting people between Tupleo and Nashville on time.

And there’s even better news to report. In May, not a single Contour flight was canceled. None at all. Thirty flights a week, more than 120 flights total, and no cancellations. When’s the last time you heard that happen?

Granted, it’s only a small sampling, and to be fair, this short period of time doesn’t necessarily set a trend – but it does mean things appear to be on track.

In April, 604 people got on board Contour in Tupelo. Last month, there were 753, for a total of 1,357.

By comparison, for all of 2015, when SeaPort was running the show, a total of 1,517 flew. So in less than two months, Contour has flown almost as many passengers as SeaPort did for an entire year.

One more plus about flying Contour’s Jetstream planes: They were originally configured to seat 19 people, but they now have only nine seats. So there’s plenty of legroom in the plane.

This may be Tupelo’s last shot at keeping an airline, which is why we need to fly with Contour early and often. Forget what happened with the previous airlines. Contour is shaping a far different future it seems.

Original article can be found here:

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