MRA Ready for Increased Traffic

Compared to May 2003, traffic is up 55 percent at Meridian Regional Airport, according to figures released by the MRA Authority.

"Our 2:00 p.m. flight in the last seven days, of 350 seats leaving Meridian only 12 of them have been empty," said Tom Williams, president and CEO.

Williams said this increase in flyers is not just for the holidays, but instead, a developing trend.

In fact, numbers show that for the first three months of this year, the number of passengers at the airport was up 50 percent from this same time last year. On average, that's just over a hundred shy of passenger numbers prior to Sept. 11, 2001. So why the increase?

While the number of business travelers flying into Meridian has remained pretty much the same, Williams said it's the increase in the number of locals taking advantage of the airport that's making the real difference.

With growing momentum, Williams said he's now talking with airline officials about adding a fourth flight. He says it's something he feels will likely happen, despite a possible bankruptcy filing by Delta Airlines.

"One of the most profitable airlines in the United States today is ASA (Atlantic Southeast Airlines) which is owned by Delta and serves Meridian. So, ASA won't be filing bankruptcy and Delta will continue to fly all of their flights out of Atlanta and ASA we know will continue to fly," Williams said. "So, the combination, I don't think, will affect us."

Williams said a fourth flight could be in place by the end of the summer.

Here's a reminder for passengers. Remember to leave anything that could be considered a weapon, such as a pocketknife, at home. In some cases the penalties can be as stiff as $10,000 and even jail time.