Holiday boardings up at PIB, as Skywest negotiates new flying order with FAA

Passengers board a Skywest Airlines flight from Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport to Houston,...
Passengers board a Skywest Airlines flight from Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport to Houston, Texas Wednesday.(wdam)
Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 12:27 AM CST
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JONES COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - AAA estimates 55 million people will be traveling this Thanksgiving and more than four million of those will be flying.

And dozens of those air travelers have been taking flights recently to and from the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport.

“Our numbers have not been great, but during this week, it picked up and It is the busiest travel week of the year and (Wednesday) shows it,” said Tom Heanue, executive director of the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport. “It looks like we’re probably going to have one of our banner days for this month or the last couple of months.”

Among the air travelers flying on Skywest Airlines at PIB Wednesday were Trisca Taylor of Prentiss, who was flying home for Thanksgiving, and Ike Reynolds of Covington County, who was flying to Austin, Texas, for the holiday.

Taylor says she had a routine flight from Houston to the Pine Belt.

“It was good, I guess, because I left so early, it was smooth sailing,” Taylor said.

Reynolds said he didn’t mind flying on what could be the busiest traveling day this year.

“It’d be better if it wasn’t that many people, but it doesn’t bother me much. I enjoy it,” said Reynolds.

Meanwhile, Skywest Airlines, which provides daily flights to and from Houston with stopovers in Meridian, currently is working on a new agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration to keep flying in the Pine Belt.

Heanue says if everything is worked out, passengers will be flying on planes with fewer seats and no stopovers.

“They’re working on a Part 135, which is a scheduled charter service, which means our jet will not have 50 seats, it will have 30,” Heanue said. “But, when they get that, then hopefully, we’ll be back to dedicated airplanes leaving PIB going direct to Houston and back and we won’t have a Meridian share.”

Heanue said that new agreement could be finalized with the next three months.

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