Business council asking companies to commit to AirTran

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulf Coast Business Council and the Coast Chamber of Commerce want to make sure AirTran airlines doesn't leave the Gulfport-Biloxi Airport. So they're asking local businesses to commit a percentage of their travel budget next year to an AirTran "travel bank." In essence, it's a "debit card" that businesses would use to fly on AirTran.

Scott King with the business council said it would show the airline that the Mississippi Coast is a strong market. He said it would also send a message to Southwest Airlines, which announced Monday it is buying AirTran.

"If we lose AirTran, then we will see our airfares go up," said King. "And perhaps more importantly, and this is the new piece of the puzzle, we want to prove to Southwest that we are a viable market and should be considered for more investment."

Airport Director Bruce Frallic told WLOX News it is far too early to know if Southwest could pull out of our market once it takes over AirTran. It should be at least a year or more before the Southwest purchase of AirTran is approved.

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