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SeaPort Airlines seeks to leave Greenville

GREENVILLE — SeaPort Airlines is seeking federal approval to end service between Greenville and Memphis within three months.

Portland, Oregon-based SeaPort in late October was awarded a federally subsidized Essential Air Service contract to restore passenger flights to and from Greenville, and the regional airline was cleared to begin service Jan. 12.

While the first flight took off March 16, the airline cancelled 13 of its 36 flights scheduled for the first two weeks of service.

All in all, Claire James, the airline’s marketing director, told the Delta Democrat Times that service has been piecemeal and the airline doesn’t have enough pilots to provide the level of service it wanted in Greenville.

The airline filed the 90-day notice to terminal service Tuesday with the U.S. Department of Transportation. It said it intends to end service by Aug. 5.

The Department of Transportation in October awarded the two-year Greenville-to-Memphis Essential Air Service contract to SeaPort, which beat out two other airlines bidding for the route.

The EAS program was established by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 to serve smaller, mostly rural, cities that had been adversely affected by the law, which gave bulk airlines permission to discontinue flying their least profitable routes.

SeaPort has expanded rapidly in recent years and currently flies in and out of 26 cities, including Greenville — at least for now — in 10 states.

The airline continues to serve Tupelo and the northwest Alabama city of Muscle Shoals, both of which, like Greenville, had been abandoned by SeaPort’s predecessor, Florida-based Silver Airways.

 

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