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5 airlines vying to become essential service for McKellar-Sipes Airport

JACKSON, TN (WNBJ) - Several airlines are now vying to become essential service here at the McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport. Airport officials say they will be asking for the decision to be made on the airline quickly.

“We have asked the U.S Department of Transportation for an expedited choice,” said Steve Smith, the Executive Director with the Jackson-Madison County Airport Authority.

The Executive Director at the Jackson-Madison County Airport Authority says they want to rectify the problems with the current carrier.

“The issue that we have had here is that the current carrier did not seem to have the sense of urgency that we need. So, we have a lot to overcome. So, when looking and making our choice. We got to see what airline will allow us to overcome that quickly,” said Smith.

There are five airlines and one bus service applying for essential airline service. Those airlines are Air Charter, Air Choice One, Boutique Air, Cape Air, and Southern Airways Express.

“We have to have comments in by the third of February and we hope they will make a choice very quickly. We have had conversations with three of the airlines, what we consider the top three choices. All of those airlines are ready to move fairly quickly,” said Smith.

The President and CEO at the Jackson Chamber of Commerce explain how critical choosing the right airline is to the city.

“When we are working with companies that are looking at Jackson or working with existing industries it is very important for us to say that we have access to the major markets around the country like Atlanta, St. Louis, Chicago, or others like that. We need to be able to tell folks you can fly out of Jackson and reach those major markets,” said

Kyle Spurgeon, the President/CEO at the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.

Spurgeon talks about possible future destinations.

“There are other markets that are adventitious for Jackson. Chicago market would be extremely to us. The gulf coast from a vacation and residential type travel are very important to us. That may be more difficult to add, but it is always on the table,” said Spurgeon.

The Jackson-Madison County Airport Authority says they predict a new essential service at the airport will be chosen within 60 days.

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