AirTran announces new service out of Tunica Airport

By Chip Washington - bio | email

TUNICA, MS (WMC-TV) - AirTrain Airways will soon launch regularly scheduled non-stop jet service between Tunica and Hartfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, officials announced Wednesday.

Tunica County Administrator Clifton Johnson hailed the announcement as important to the local economy.

"We're thinking this is going to open up opportunities for citizens within 100 miles from here to catch a flight anywhere in the country," Johnson said.

AirTran will begin operating flights out of Tunica on May 6, initially offering one per day, four days a week.  Cliff Nash, who heads operations at Tunica Airport, said existing charter flight growth, coupled with new passengers carried by AirTran, will bring more people to the Tunica area.

"If you look at the average load factor from the charter program the last two years, and the load factor for the AirTran flight, we're looking at between 85,000 and 90,000 people we're projecting next year," Nash said.

Harrah's Entertainment is also a partner in the venture, and leaders are hopeful early success will lead to greater opportunities in the future.

"We'll start the program flying four days a week - Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday - and as demand continues to grow we'll continue to add flights by day and number per day," Harrah's Regional President R. Scott Baker said.

Airport Commission member Beau Gregory booked the first ticket.

"It's really exciting for me to be able to book the first ticket here and be able to fly anywhere in the U.S. that AirTran goes," he said.

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