Jump to content

McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport Loses Passenger Service again [Jackson]

Rural King

Recommended Posts

Jackson's McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport recently (Nov. 18) regained regular passenger air service with Big Sky Airlines who signed a federal contract under the federal "Essential Air Service Program" to provide connector service for Delta to Cincinatti. After a little over a month of service Big Air has announced it is canceling all operations East of the Mississippi River and cutting 140 jobs, which means come January the city will be back without regular air service to a hub. Read the full story of this development here at the Jackson Sun.

Mayor Jerry Gist has stated that one solution may be to regain Northwest Airlines connector service out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama to connect Jackson flights to Memphis. I really don't understand how that would really work and the article does not elaborate.

So the question is what is a fast growing city like Jackson to do? We have a great regional airport with great modern facilities, but for the time being are we simply to close to Memphis and Nashville to make commuter flights to anywhere work long term under the Essential Air Service Program?

I think we here in Jackson are simply going to be satisfied with McKellar-Sipes being a business/corporate/private service airport until the market can grow large enough to support a real regular service to a larger hub like Atlanta or St. Louis. I can't see a Memphis or Nashville connector working out due to cost and time issues, but I won't say it's not possible, but if so one would think such a arrangement would have been worked out by now.

Extra reading: The Jackson Sun had a great editorial piece on the issues Jackson has had in maintaining passenger service over the years and some pretty scathing commentary about the whole process and past service providers. Definitely an interesting read, so check it out here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 4
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Hmmm...Mesaba is reconsidering its EAS contract with Muscle Shoals. Maybe MKL officials have an idea to link MEM with MSL using one-stop service via MKL. That wouldn't require an additional SF340 in the Memphis system and the 20-25 minute turn in Jackson wouldn't greatly delay passengers to-from Muscle Shoals. I hope NWA/Mesaba can start serving MKL again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Big Skys Airline ended its service to McKellar-Sipes today along with its service to Owensboro, KY and Cape Giradeau, Mo. according to the Jackson Sun. Four to five individuals will lose their employement at McKellar-Sipes with the TSA officers being re-assigned to Memphis until service returns under a new provider.

The Jackson-Madison County Airport Authority has forwarded materials to Mesaba Airlines (owned by Northwest Airlines) to seek service for Jackson via their Muscle Shoals, AL service to Memphis. Mesaba provided service previously to Jackson at which time 8,000 passengers annually used the service according to Jackson-Madison County Airport Authority Executive Director Rodney Hendrix.

So the Mesaba Airlines service from Muscle Shoals, AL to Memphis sounds promising, but I wonder why Jackson lost that service to begin with if it was garnering 8,000 users annually? I assume it was a issue unrelated to passenger usage? Anyone in the industry or who keeps up with it have any idea why, and/or remember when, this service was lost?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Update- Today MKL is having their monthly board meeting. Currently they have 2 proposals on the table. One is a 9 passenger flight to St. Louis that does not meet Essential Air Service requirements. The other proposal is Great Lakes Airlines flying to either St. Louis or Cincinnati. The GL proposal meets EAS requirements. However, the DOT decides the destination. It is also contingent on whether Cape Girardeau accepts Great Lakes as their EAS carrier (they also had the Big Sky flights to Cincy).

I do not like either of these two proposals IMHO. This is because there is a better chance of ending up with the St. Louis destination, which after the American Airlines flight cutbacks, is not a good connecting hub. Personally, I would think the best option would be to try and get flights to Atlanta via Atlantic Southeast under the Delta banner. Since Tupelo recently lost their Atlanta flight, maybe that could be a viable option? Just my wandering thought. Anyway, the MSL-MKL to MEM flight via Mesaba/NWA would also work. However, with the potential buyout of NWA by Delta, MKL could potentially be back at this same position if MEM was ever de-hubbed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Great Lakes has stated that Jackson could not see regular flights resume at the airport until this summer due to issues acquiring leases for Beechcraft 1900s that would be required do service the airport and training the pilots to fly this type craft for the route. You can watch the video story here at this WBBJ CH 7 news link.

I really would like to see regular commercial service return the the city's extemely nice airport, but it's a tough economic proposition given that within roughly an hour one can be at the terminal in Memphis via an extremely easy car commute down I-40 and I-240. A city like Paducah, KY on the other hand that is 2-3 hours away from the nearest large airport has had a much easier time maintaining successful commercial services. I think geography is the decisive factor in Jackson's inability to support a commercial service, and until the city grows enough in population to offset this fact I feel this will continue to be the case.

Growing up 2+ hours away from Memphis International airport makes one very keen as to how nice only being roughly 1 hour away via a very easy and direct interstate commute truely is. I think sometimes folks in Jackson take this fact for granted, but I totally understand and share the local interest and desire for commercial flights here in the city. Even without commercial service the airport is one the cities strongest assets, as it provides a means for virtually every level of coroporate jet the ability to land in the city, which is key selling point for corporations who currently carry out business in Jackson or might be interested in doing so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.