One low-cost airline has already pulled out of the city, before its first flight ever lifted off from the Mobile Downtown Airport.
Via Airlines will immediately stop flights in and out of Mobile Regional, Montgomery Regional and Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International airports, company spokesman Donald Bowman confirmed in an email message Thursday morning.
“Regrettably, upon considering the carrier’s on-going challenges in recruiting, training and retaining a suitable level of qualified crews, Via Airlines’ Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to suspend all flights to/from Mobile, Alabama and Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport effective immediately,” Bowman wrote. “All guests with confirmed and paid reservations will receive a full refund.”
In the statement, Bowman thanked the respective authorities for support.
“Via Airlines wishes to thank the Mobile Airport Authority and the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport management team for their support to date, and regrets this painful, but necessary decision, which we feel is in the best interest of the communities at this point in time,” he wrote.
Via was the first airline to make an official, successful pitch to fly commercially out of the Brookley Aeroplex. The company had planned to make trips to Orlando out of the downtown terminal, but had been having trouble as of late.
This latest announcement was not a surprise for Mobile Airport Authority President Chris Curry, who said the agency had been transitioning its focus toward ensuring the success of Frontier, which currently serves the Mobile Downtown Airport with five flights per week to Denver and Chicago. He added he believes the moves by Via is an effort for the company to focus more on charter service and away from normal commercial service.
“They are really getting out of the commercial service business,” Curry said. “We came to that conclusion several weeks ago.”
As for Frontier Airlines, the only airline with flights in and out of Brookley, Curry said the discount carrier is still popular for Mobile-area travelers as outbound planes have been about 80-percent full in recent weeks. That lines up with the expectations the authority and the airline had, Curry said.
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