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.