HATTIESBURG — An American Eagle 50-passenger jet left the Hattiesburg Laurel regional airport yesterday as the airline made its debut.
American Eagle will connect Hattiesburg-Laurel and Meridian regional airports with its parent carrier’s Dallas-Fort Worth hub. It replaced Silver Airways as the area’s commercial carrier.
“We’ve got service now that we believe is something that you can grow,” Hattiesburg-Laurel Executive Director Thomas Heanue said. “We’ve got the world’s largest carrier, the right size aircraft and we’re going to an excellent hub that is their largest hub.
Heanue said Hattiesburg-Laurel must average about 900 passengers per month — about 32 outbound fliers per day — to meet United States Department of Transportation requirements for service.
Overall, Hattiesburg-Laurel must board 9,500 outbound passengers before October 2015 to remain eligible for the $3.8 million Essential Air Service federal subsidy that helped attract American Eagle to the Pine Belt.
“If we don’t do that by that time, then the government will shut us down,” Heanue said. “It’s important people know that because, if we don’t make it, they won’t have service.”
The new service will offer departures twice on weekdays, with a single departure scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays.
Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree said he hoped regional fliers would look to Hattiesburg-Laurel first for their needs.
“We have an opportunity for our community to step up and show how essential air service is for our community,” he said. “That’s why the mayors of Laurel and Meridian and Ellisville have all banded together to make sure that this where we look first before we look anywhere else. This is our community, and we need to have air service.”
Twelve passengers boarded the CRJ 200 jet for the first flight.
BEFORE YOU GO…
… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.
If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.Click for more info