Eventful Week for Meridian Regional Airport

For the first time in Meridian Airport Authority President Tom Williams' 26 years at Meridian Regional, he had to execute his security plan because of some suspicious luggage stashed behind some bushes.

"The Transportation Security Administration then followed their procedures and protocol for lost luggage, and we were then in the process of evacuating the terminal until it could be positively proven they were not a hazard."

Fortunately, the luggage was just that, suitcases full of clothes and personal items. Williams says everyone's training kicked in, and he's proud of the way they responded.

"It went remarkably well. The police department responded and we cordoned off about a 300 foot perimeter. The Mississippi Highway Patrol had a bomb dog here in very short order."

While that was certainly the most intense situation at the airport this week, the Airport Authority announced a major change in passenger service. The extreme rise in fuel costs has played a major part in Delta pulling out of Meridian, but Delta's pilots are also in on it.

"As it turned out, they were negotiating a new pilot contract. That new contract called for Delta to retire 228 airplanes. To go from 253 50-seat regional jets down to 125."

While still unsure about some of the exact specifics with Silver Airlines, Williams is focusing on the positive parts of this new experience.

"It won't be just Delta anymore. When you go to Atlanta on Silver, you'll be able to connect with other airlines. If you carry your bag on, you'll be able to go walk across the terminal and get on a Southwest Airlines flight and the fares they have.

Silver Airlines should begin service around October 1st, and there will be no disruption during the transition from Delta.

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