BY STANLEY DUNLAP, sdunlap@macon.com, The Telegraph

Updated July 27, 2018 03:12 PM

MACON, GA.

A year ago marked the return of regular air service from the Middle Georgia Regional Airport, with Contour Airlines providing daily flights between Macon and the Washington, D.C., area.

After the previous two airlines flamed out, there may have been some skepticism about how the latest venture would fare.

But the response has been better than even the most optimistic projections, according to airline and airport officials.

In June, more than 3,000 passengers came through the Middle Georgia Regional Airport, up from 246 at the same time last year. Contour offers daily flights from the regional airport to Baltimore Washington International.

“We filled more than 90 percent of seats in the month of July. Almost half the flights were completely sold out,” Contour CEO Matt Chaifetz said. “To say it’s surpassed our expectations would be an understatement. We’ve been blown away by the response.”

While airline and airport officials may explore potentially adding another destination, there are some logistical challenges such as having enough aircraft on site for both D.C. and another city.

“It is something we’re studying: the possibility of a Florida service in the winter,” Chaiftez said. “The important thing is we would not be receiving a subsidy. The pricing would have to be set at a level to cover our full costs. The Florida service would be higher than what people have become accustomed to from Macon to D.C.”

The airport also has had success with Sun Country Airlines charter flights to Biloxi, Mississippi, according to a Macon-Bibb County news release.

From January to June, 13,700 airline passengers came through the regional airport. There were 1,310 during the same time span last year, the release stated.

“We’ve seen passengers from as far out as Columbus, Valdosta, Dublin and Covington,” airport manager Erick D’Leon wrote in an email to The Telegraph. “The service we have here is not just for Middle Georgia. It’s for folks that are looking for a more convenient method of air travel from all over the state.”

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