Flight Options Growing

Last month marked the end of an era for Air France's the Concorde. Due to lagging demand, the popular aircraft was grounded for good. The slow bookings for the flights were thought to be at least partially due to growing popularity of charter flights.

Although often thought to cater to the rich, it appears that perhaps some of the "not so rich" are now also taking advantage of this service.

Patrick Laing is the owner of ENPA charter service. Originally started in Florida, Laing's company now offers charter service out of Meridian.

The former Air Jamaica and American Eagle pilot said, since 9/11 he has seen a slow but steady increase in the number of fliers looking to avoid extensive security checks associated with commercial flights.

"It has cut down on their waiting time. It gets them there pretty quickly and they don't have to worry about the people they're flying with because they pretty much know them because they are family or friends," Laing said.

However, even with heighten security measures in place, officials with Meridian Regional Airport say commercial flights are still in demand.

"Right now we're about 45percent to 50 percent full and that's growing," said airport CEO Tom Williams. "By the way, as we get on up to 60 percent, we'll talk hopefully about adding some service, but we've got a way to go. We'll probably be looking at year end before we talk about something like that."

One big concern about charter service is the costs. According to officials with ENPA, if you shop around, you can find charter flights that are within $50.00 of commercial flights. However, local travel agents say customers remain concerned that charter flights can get rather expensive.