Leaders hope airlines will expand in South Mississippi

GULFPORT/BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Airports may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about boosting the economy, but being one stop away from the world is vital to South Mississippi's economy for two reasons.

"It's important to our hospitality industry from visitors coming in and attracting visitors in," President of the Gulf Coast Business Council Jack Norris said. "It is also incredibly important to our business community and having access to key business markets nationally and internationally."

With so much happening here, airport leaders want to make sure airline carriers not only stay, but expand.

Airline representatives were invited to get a first hand account from business and tourism leaders about what is happening in South Mississippi from Cruisin' the Coast to the Hard Rock Hotel Expansion, and even marketing ourselves as one destination.

Airport Executive Director Clay Williams said, "This is information they can't get from looking at spreadsheets and numerical analysis. They need to see it and understand what is going on in the community."

"This market is really poised for growth in the next five to 10 years, so it gave us an opportunity in person to tell them from every sector of our economy," Norris said.

Right now, Delta, United, American and US Airlines have a combined 18 flights leaving the Gulfport Biloxi International Airport every day. Also, the Beau Rivage has a partnership with Vision Airlines, which makes eight flights a week.

Will Livsey with American Airlines said, "Now that we see that opportunity here that will entice us to increase service or look for new opportunities. So, yes, it was very exciting to meet these folks and we look forward to a bright future here."

Delta Team Leader Chul Lee said, "I learned a lot about economic developments and future growth, so that will help us plan ahead "

With a better understanding of South Mississippi, leaders hope the economic growth will be supported by airlines.

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