Federal Government Subsidizes Airline to Fly From Regional Airport
A new airline will be flying into the Middle Georgia Regional Airport at the end of September.
However, there’s not much foot traffic or flights at the airport these days.
"It's a very low number," airport manager Doug Faour said.
But, he hopes that will change when Sun Air comes to town.
"It's important for the City of Macon to have airline service,” he said. “It's important for us to take this opportunity and to grow on it."
A two million dollar grant from the federal government is enticing the airline. A considerable amount of money coming in considering the Department of Transportation wrote in a report saying the airport had less than 2000 commercial passengers in one year.
The Macon community is part of the federal program Essential Airline Service (EAS) which is managed by the DOT. The program is meant to continue providing rural communities with commercial airline services to help those communities remain prosperous.
"These type things support jobs in Macon," Faour said.
However, it may not for long if the airline can't meet the DOT’s regulations. Per passenger, a subsidy cannot exceed $1000 dollars and Macon is $979 per passenger. Also, they can't have less than 10 passengers a day flying and Macon is currently averaging about three. If the airport and airlines can’t work together to increase passenger traffic on the flights, then the airport will lose commercial flights from the region. Faour said he hopes Sun Air will survive and possibly attract more people and another airline.
"We want to grow on that and airline services is where we're kind of low at right now so that's an opportunity for us to grow the airport and the impact that the airport has for the community."
Sun Air will offer a total of 24 flights a week to Atlanta. Faour said the service will probably start at the end of September.