While Gary St. John talked about ASA's new service plan for the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport , a 30 seat turbo prop plane taxied toward its gate. Starting Nov. 1, 2001, the silver and orange plane will leave Gulfport for good.
At the news conference, St. John said, "I'm truly pleased to announce that the Brasilia fleet will be phased out of the Gulfport Biloxi airport and replaced with our 50 passenger jet."
ASA's new schedule will have seven flights a day to Atlanta. Six will be on the quieter, faster regional jet.
"We just feel that this aircraft will give you the opportunities that you've been wanting for quite awhile," St. John said.
Replacing the small turbo props with regional jets means the airport will welcome up to 27,000 more passengers a year. Airport Commissioner Ron Werby said, "The significance of this is that just a few years ago, we had no jet service if you remember. And now on Nov. 1, 21 out of 25 flights will be jets."
The jet service is important to local travel agents. They often have a tough time convincing passengers to buy a ticket on a silver and orange turbo prop. Travel agent Rae Anne Ryan said, "It certainly opens up more flight connections for us to use."
ASA executives say the change from turbo props to regional jets should make it easier for the airline to eventually add new flights to Delta's hub in Dallas.
Of the seven new ASA flights, six will be on the 50 seat regional jet. The other flight will be on a larger, 66 seat turbo prop aircraft.