The last Saab 340 flew gently into that sweet good night Thursday at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport, marking the final flight before retirement for the propeller-driven airliner.
GTRA Executive Director Mike Hainsey said Delta”s two 32-passenger twin-engine turboprop flights at the airport will be replaced by a 50-passenger regional jet flight.
Delta is retiring all Saab aircraft by the end of the year partly because of rising fuel prices.
Although the aircraft have flown out of GTRA for more than 20 years, first with Northwest Airlines, then with Delta, Hainsey said they weren”t “much of a loss.”
“We”re looking at this as progress — getting rid of the older jets and getting the new ones in place,” he said.
The new regional jets are more comfortable and faster, he said. They will also save the airline money by increasing efficiency.
Even though the transition means 14 fewer seats out of GTRA, Hainsey said the airport has seen an increase in traffic because of industry flooding the area.
Traffic through the airport has increased by double digits every month since October, he said. Altogether, passenger traffic is up 12 percent so far this year, despite Delta”s decision to drop the flight to Memphis.
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