U.S. Airways announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation is letting the Jackson to Washington, D.C. route remain active.
Photo by Courtesy T.M. Wolf
JACKSON Mississippians who need to fly from the state capital to the nation's capital can breathe a sigh of relief.
U.S. Airways, which took over Delta Airline's nonstop route from the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in March, announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation is letting the route remain active.
Delta discontinued the flights March 2. On March 5, US Airways picked it up with provisional approval from USDOT. Ray LaHood, the federal transportation secretary, informed elected officials of the decision to grant permanent authority earlier in the week.
Gov. Phil Bryant lauded LaHood and Mississippi's congressional delegation, calling the route "critical to economic development, defense contractors and military personnel who routinely travel to Washington, D.C."
The five carriers that serve Jackson's airport shuttled 1.2 million passengers between June 2011 and June 2012. That was a decrease of 0.5 percent in the same period the previous year.
While passenger travel is down slightly, more cargo is moving through Jackson's air terminal. In June, 850 tons of air cargo moved through JAN compared to 1 million pounds in June 2011, a 12 percent increase.
Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson, the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, said making the flight permanent would benefit central Mississippi's civic leaders, the business community, advocacy groups, schools and tourists throughout Central Mississippi
Duane O'Neill, chief executive officer of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, called landing the flight a "major victory" considering Jackson was competing against Louisville, La. and Oklahoma City, Okla. for the flights to DCA, which the federal government limits because of the airport's close proximity to Washington, D.C, just over the Potomac River.
"Permanent status for this U.S. Airways flight is extremely important to the economic future of our greater Jackson region," O'Neill said in a press release.