Macon air route still defying gravity
Federal officials are considering restoring a subsidy of more than $1 million to keep Atlanta to Macon passenger flights, despite the route's 2011 average of about one person aboard each flight.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has collected proposals from two carriers to take over the 80-mile route under the "Essential Air Service" program, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (http://bit.ly/LU9TvC). The program subsidizes airline flights to smaller cities which might not have passenger air service otherwise.
There was a piece about this on the 6PM newscast of WSB here in Atlanta and they're saying that the two airlines are Sun Air International and Twin Air Calypso. From what I can gather from the websites of both airlines as well as the photo database here, they would be using Piper Chieftains.
If they do restore this subsidy, I would be shocked. It really would not matter who operates the flight, it just will continue to have horrible loads. When I worked for ASA a dozen years ago, I remember sending ATL-MCN flights in the evenings that had no more than 2-3 people and we'd often send the plane out empty. If Delta couldn't make the route work even with the EAS subsidy via ASA (The last few years they operated the route, they did it with the EAS subsidy.) and they offered a multitude of connecting opportunities, an airline without any interlining agreements surely isn't going to make it.
Macon is close enough to Atlanta to not need air service to it. I know that in the past Gulfstream (now Silver Airways) proposed service from MCN to Florida, but the bid exceeded the EAS max subsidy, which was already an issue on Georgia Skies' ATL-MCN service, which the subsidy was close to $500 per passenger and is why the EAS subsidy for Macon was withdrawn after the rebid two years ago resulted in no contract being awarded due to the subsidies exceeding the maximum.