MUSCLE SHOALS — Silver Airways, the Shoals’ new regional airline, has been named the 2013 Regional Airline of the Year by Air Transport World, a global airline industry magazine.
Silver Airways began providing daily flights to Atlanta from Northwest Alabama Regional Airport on Oct. 1 after being awarded a $16 million Essential Air Service contract to provide air service to the Shoals, the Mississippi communities of Tupelo, Hattiesburg-Laurel and Greenville, and to Lewisburg, W.Va.
The airline is being honored by the magazine in recognition of its outstanding growth and achievements, as well as its contributions toward elevating the overall regional aviation industry.
“(Air Transport World) awards represent the pinnacle of achievement in aviation,” Matthew Ray, the airline’s chairman of the board, said in a Silver news release. “Aside from the continued support and appreciation of our passengers, there is no higher honor. On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the nearly 800 Silver Airways team members across the United States and the Bahamas for their hard work and dedication that made this award possible. We started this airline with the goal to build the number-one regional airline in the world.”
In addition to the Shoals and Mississippi, Silver also provides subsidized air service to communities in Florida and the mid-Atlantic.
“Underpinning the airline’s success has been our unwavering commitment to foster a winning corporate culture, execute an innovative business strategy and establish an independent brand with the strength and flexibility to drive customer loyalty and foster partnerships with multiple carriers,” Ray said in the release.
The service got off to a rocky start in the Shoals when the inaugural flight was delayed because of inclement weather.
Since then, the airline has dealt with delayed flights, canceled flights, and boardings that were much less than flights to Atlanta under Delta Connection, which Silver Airways replaced.
Barry Auchly, a member of the airport’s board of directors and chairman of the Shoals Air Services Committee, said the airport has seen better performance in all aspects of the operation including on-time schedule.
“We are quite pleased and proud of our carrier being named Regional Carrier of the Year by Air Transport World,” Auchly said “To receive this award requires an excellent safety record, innovation and strong leadership by executive management, excellent customer service and (ecological) and technology endeavors. This is a remarkable achievement for a relatively new carrier in a very competitive field.”
Airport Director Barry Griffith said the airline’s on-time performance has improved.
“We continue to work with them on insuring that passengers are getting the best fair options and better service from Muscle Shoals to Atlanta,” Griffith said. “The on-time performance has improved and continues to improve daily.”
The awards are determined solely by the editors of Air Transport World based on submissions made by airlines throughout the world. The 2013 awards will be presented March 26 in Washington, D.C.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.