Airport funding falls short of project work at Pine Belt airports

By BETH BUNCH,

Despite a grant for $533,119 to make improvements at the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport, executive director Tom Heanue said the funding is about $750,000 less than the project cost.

“We are waiting for FAA to rectify that,” he said of the normal annual airport improvement project.

The funds are to be used to rehabilitate runway and taxiway markings, add 1,655 square yards of apron, and an additional 7,609 square yards of parking lot.

The regional airport was one of seven aviation facilities across the state, including the Hattiesburg Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport, to receive $13.39 million in grant funding awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Bobby Chain Airport received $744,205 to install 2,200 feet of airfield drainage.

“This third round of FAA grants will go a long way toward improving air service and safety at these Mississippi airports,” U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said. “Strong airports make our state a more attractive place for businesses, tourists, and travelers.”

The largest portion of funding, more than $10 million, went to the Jackson airport and Hawkins Field, which are part of a continued effort to enhance the safety and efficiency of the state’s largest airport complex, according to U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

“I’m pleased these grants will also benefit other regional and local airports around Mississippi.

DIRECT FLIGHTS

In other aviation news, the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport will no longer sharing planes with Meridian.

On Sept. 4, American Airlines will no longer fly Pine Belt routes through Meridian.

“We will be on our own to fill the 50 passenger jet,” said Heanue. “Meridian has carried the route, besting the Pine Belt by 2 to 1 passengers. It will be imperative for Pine Belt travelers to step up,” said Heanue.

American Airlines will operate two non-stop flights to Dallas-Ft. Worth each day, except Saturdays.

“One item most travelers will like is the mid-morning departure,” said Heanue.

Absent will be the Chicago flight.

“It did not meet expectations as the numbers from PIB were low,” he said. “We hope this new schedule will help stabilize the Pine Belt market. We will have direct flights to and from a great hub – DFW – and our flights will be later in the day to help with the early morning stigma. I sure hope travelers check out this great service and use their local airport.”

As for the regional airport’s boarding number, Heanue said the airport comes up for

As for our boarding numbers, Heanue said the airports comes up for Essential Air Service (EAS) bid October 2020.

“If our numbers aren’t good, SKYWEST won’t bid on service,” he said.

Flight schedule times include:

Sunday through Friday

Depart DFW 9:40 AM Arrive PIB 11:20 AM

Depart PIB 11:50 AM Arrive DFW 1:45 PM

Depart DFW 5:25 PM Arrive PIB 7:05 PM

Depart PIB 7:30 PM Arrive DFW 9:25 PM

 

Saturday

Depart DFW 12:40 PM Arrive PIB 2:20 PM

Depart PIB 2:50 PM Arrive DFW 4:45 PM

All flights are NON-STOP

to and from Dallas-Ft. Worth

PREP SPORTS: