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FAA orders Delta Air Lines to stay in Tupelo

TUPELO — The U.S. Department of Transportation has ordered Delta Air Lines to continue providing service in Tupelo until a replacement carrier is found.

On July 15, the airline said it could no longer serve 16 small airports across the country, including Tupelo, Greenville and Hattiesburg.

Delta receives a federal subsidy through the Essential Air Service program to fly in those cities. In Greenville, it receives $1.6 million a year; in Hattiesburg nearly $1.4 million; and in Tupelo, more than $920,000.

The USDOT tells the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal it is accepting proposals through Oct. 12.

In a separate item, the Federal Aviation Administration has approved a $5.8-million grant for a runway extension at Tupelo Regional Airport.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports the FAA grant — approved by the Tupelo City Council by a 5-2 vote on Tuesday — will cover 95 percent of the cost. The city and state each must provide matching money of $153,439.

Construction of the 650-foot addition to the north end of the runway will cost $5.07 million. Additional work, including taxiway signage, a south taxiway connector overlay and other equipment installation brings the total cost of the project to $6.1 million.

The Tupelo Airport Authority has pushed for a runway extension, insisting that it is needed to expand capacity and entice businesses to the airport and the area.

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