MUSCLE SHOALS — Boardings for Silver Airways are not where the Air Services Committee would like them to be three months after the new airline began providing commuter flights to Atlanta.
Committee Chairman Barry Auchly and Northwest Alabama Regional Airport Director Barry Griffith are optimistic the numbers will change now that flights can be booked through Delta.com.
The Air Services Committee is a part of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce.
“Boardings are way below what we had hoped they would be,” Auchly told the committee Tuesday.
While there were no numbers for October, 155 passengers flew on Silver Airways in November and 161 used the service in December, compared to 836 and 856 respectively in 2011.
Griffith said he suspects the low numbers were because of problems with Silver’s online ticketing system. Travelers had to book two separate legs of a flight or utilize a travel website such as Expedia or Travelocity to book multiple flight connections with one ticket.
With that problem solved and Silver flights appearing on Delta.com, Griffith expects boardings to increase. He said rectifying the ticketing issue is another step toward moving the new service forward.
Griffith said the airline was experiencing problems with canceled flights and flights that were not on time.
A spare aircraft that will be stationed in Atlanta and can be used to replace planes grounded because of mechanical issues is another improvement to flight service, Griffith said.
Griffith said the airport wants to continue to market the new air service through print and radio advertising, and later on through television and outdoor advertising. He said local radio stations began running ads for Silver in November.
“We will continue to work with Silver to get the message out,” Griffith said.
Griffith said the second phase of the development of an area known as the southeast quadrant is about 50 percent complete.
Contractors are developing an industrial park that will cater to aviation-related businesses or businesses that want to locate in close proximity to an airport.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.