Airline & Tourism Leaders Meet At Development Summit

BILOXI (WLOX) -- Fuel costs remain the biggest issue for America's commercial airlines.

"You can't wait to get up and hear the news in the morning to find out where the price is down," says Joseph Rector, Properties & Facilities Manager with Air Tran Airlines. "It's a constant struggle to try to stay on top of that and keep our costs down."

"It's our single biggest expense item," says Greg Davis, a network planning specialist with Delta Airlines. "It costs us more for fuel than labor, facilities, aircraft, anything else."

However, it seems South Mississippi has a solution.

"What it does not impact is the growth here in Biloxi and Gulfport, because the market has been so strong and supportive," says American Eagle Regional Sales Manager Kathy Cargile.

Continuing that growth is the objective of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Airline and Tourism Summit.

"There's so much information they give us about what's happening in the community, what's happening business wise, what companies are here. It helps us to know what we need to do for our growth with the airline," says Continental Airlines Sales Manager Nancy Gaden.

This year's summit brought in developers, as well as local business and community leaders to network with the airlines that Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport Executive Director Bruce Frallic says keep the tourist traffic flowing.

"I want the airlines to know that we have a really supportive community," says Frallic. "Secondly, I want developers to know all the great opportunities there are for investment down here and all the incredible incentives there are here right now."

Frallic believes those opportunities and incentives will keep both the airline and the tourism industries climbing to greater heights.