By Russ Corey Staff Writer | Posted: Tuesday, March 10, 2015 10:22 am MUSCLE SHOALS — Dalton Sullivan is pleased with SeaPort Airlines’ first two months in the Shoals, even though the airline was forced to cancel numerous flights because of winter weather. The local station manager for SeaPort, Sullivan told members of the Shoals Air Services committee Tuesday the airline completed 84.4 percent of its flights last month. It completed 88.4 percent in January. Seaport began serving the Shoals on Jan. 12. “Safety is the No. 1 priority in canceling a flight,” Sullivan said. “If the conditions are not safe to fly, we’re not going to do it.” SeaPort operates four daily flights from Northwest Alabama Regional Airport to Nashville International Airport on weekdays and two flights on Saturday and Sunday. Sullivan said 15 flights were canceled in February. All but three were because of the weather. From March 46, the airline canceled six flights, Sullivan said. All of those were weather related. Sullivan said there are obvious reasons flights are canceled because of weather and some not so obvious. The weather could be fine in the Shoals, but icy in Nashville.
Sullivan said there are weather conditions that could impact the plane while it’s in flight. Recently, there were icy conditions at Nashville International Airport. The runway was cleared, but the ramp area was icy. “Most folks have been really understanding about it,” Sullivan said. “It was more than we would have liked, that’s for sure.” Airport Director Barry Griffith said there were 108 boardings in January and 168 in February. “I’m happy with the increase over last month, particularly with the weather,” Griffith said. Sullivan told members of the air services committee he is starting to see some repeat customers. During the meeting, Griffith said marketing efforts are underway, but he solicited ideas from the committee to be sure every market segment is targeted. He wants to move into radio advertising next and is considering billboard advertising in high traffic areas outside the Shoals.
“We want to hit the outlying areas,” he said. Shoals Chamber of Commerce representative Judy Keenum, director of leadership and Keep the Shoals Beautiful, suggested promoting the convenience of the local airport over driving to other regional airports. Flights to Nashville are $39 one way through June 30. Griffith wants to promote the idea that you can nearly fly to Nashville and back for roughly the cost of three days parking at a major airport. The airline wants to collect testimonials from repeat travelers who have had good experiences with the service
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