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City rejects air service bids from two airlines

TUPELO — Delta Airlines is set to pull out of Tupelo next month after saying the airport does not have a large enough passenger base to support Delta’s 50-passenger jets.

Air Choice One wants to provide more service with smaller planes.

Airline CEO Shane Storz told the Tupelo Airport Authority Wednesday his company can provide shuttle service to Memphis, five round trips a day at a flat rate of $59. The airline flies a nine passenger Cessna Caravan.

Air Choice One is seeking $2.3 million in federal subsidies to fly in and out of Tupelo. Delta Airlines currently gets about $900,000 a year.

The city has already notified the U.S. Department of Transportation that it had rejected proposals from Air Choice One, based in St. Louis, and SeaPort Airlines of Portland, Ore.

Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said the smaller planes and their inability to connect with larger airlines like Delta and American prompted the decision.

“The ability for passengers to flow through the airport system, check in once, screening, one set of tickets and fly through to a destination. We sell convenience here,” said Josh Abramson, executive director of the Tupelo Regional Airport.

Reed said in the city’s letter that neither Air Choice nor SeaPort have code-sharing deals with any major airline. So, passengers would still be required to purchase airline tickets for their eventual destinations.

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