The Meridian Airport Authority has suffered some major setbacks after a switch from Delta to Silver Airlines, according to president of the MAA, Tom Williams. Williams says since that switch, passenger boardings have been down by as much as 60 percent. Part of that number comes from the loss of military passengers, who are not authorized to fly via silver airways. But he says those statistics are also heavily influenced by operating flaws. Williams says in the past few weeks the majority of flights have not operated on time, with two-thirds of flights cancelled or more than an hour late.
"Only one-third of their flights have operated on time," Williams says. "Out of 45 flights that were scheduled to depart Meridian during that three-week period, 15 operated as advertised."
With such negative statistics, he says it's hard to expect that numbers would be any different.
"You expect to perform well, you expect to get passengers if you can't operate your airline any better than that? I think they are getting what they caused," Williams says.
Williams says the Meridian Airport Authority has offered assistance to Silver Airlines, but there has been virtually no coordination with silver and the airport.
"Guys, let us know. Send us an email. Pick up the phone and calls us and tell us, 'hey we've got problems; it's going to be bad for a couple of weeks.' No. I have to reach out to them and say what's wrong?" he explained.
However, he says although the flights are not at all satisfactory, Silver Airlines has recently begun to make strides in providing assistance to help the passengers who are left behind.
"It used to be that the airplane didn't show up. I'm sorry, it will be here at noon or it will be here at two o'clock this afternoon. But they've done a much better job at accommodating their passengers, where they actually get snacks for them when the flights are late. Or put them in a cab and take them to Jackson and put them in another airplane," he says.
But he says that assistance is not enough to equip passengers with the experience they deserve. And changes must be made.
"Either getting Silver reformed, getting them to operate and give us what we deserve, what any community deserves when they're being paid to provide air service," he says. "Or trying to find someone who can."
In the meantime, the Meridian Airport Authority is still open for business.