JET Natchez – About to Land in Natchez – Mississippi’s Best Community Newspaper

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JET Natchez, our initiative to bring commercial air service back to our airport, is about to land in Natchez!

Last Tuesday, Mark Cestari, Chief Commercial Officer of Southern Airways, the country’s fastest growing commuter airline, said the words we’ve been waiting to hear: “We think Natchez is a great fit for us…We can consider starting like October… Daily flights from Natchez to Memphis… Daily flights from Natchez to New Orleans… Flights next year to Houston and Dallas… We hope Natchez will be our next winner.

What a pleasure to hear this good news! Natchez – we have come a long way. It seems so long ago, in April 2021, when Marla and I traveled to Greenville with then-Board of Supervisors Chair Angela Hutchins and supervisor Wes Middleton, the director of the airport Richard Nelson and pilot and local businessman Tate Hobdy, to meet Greenville. Mayor Errick Simmons and Greenville Mid-Delta Airport Manager Samuel Washington to learn more about their business department and how Natchez could follow suit.

Inspired by our visit and emboldened by the vast experience, vision and leadership of our Airport Manager Richard Nelson and his exceptional team of airport marshals, we pursued our goal of restoring commercial air service to Natchez for the first time in nearly 30 years. . The city and county teamed up and we hired an outstanding airport consultant, Jeremiah Gerald, who immediately began working on our study and air traffic plan.

Additionally, grants were obtained to fully restore the track (nearly $5 million) and replace track lighting with computerized LEDs (nearly $1.1 million), and the city and county pledged $500,000 in ARPA funds to establish a risk mitigation account needed to get started. commercial air service with any carrier. Ironically, work began on the lighting project the same day we met Mr. Cestari, and the track project is nearly complete.

Works. Education. Tourism. Put them together and you have JET Natchez – and it finally happens! It couldn’t come at a better time, as we begin so many great things for our region: Renovating our Convention Center and City Auditorium; Welcoming new cruise ships on the Mississippi River (our new total will be nine!); Baptism of the American Symphony on August 30 (Natchez will be its “godmother town” and possibly its home port and home port); and other TV and film projects coming to Natchez – filming for the History Channel miniseries “The Great Escape, Season 2,” begins August 8! Eight more episodes are being filmed right here in our beautiful town on the hill, and we can’t wait to welcome Morgan Freeman back to Natchez! Add to that our desire to build more into workforce development and education, to even include pilot training and airport mechanic training, and the timing is even better!

Words are insufficient to express our gratitude for our partnership with Adams County, Richard Nelson, and our great team of airport marshals, led by Chairman John McCullough and Vice Chairman Dante Weir.

By working together, we really achieve great things. Because when it comes to commercial flights, jobs, education and tourism, Natchez deserves more!

Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez.

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