Grant Boosts Goal of Nonstop Flights to Gulfport-Biloxi to Support Defense, Space Sectors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and U.S. Representative Mike Ezell (R-Miss.) today announced a $365,000 grant to the Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport Authority to embark on a process to establish a nonstop flight service to a Washington, D.C.-area airport.

Hyde-Smith and Ezell wrote letters of support for the airport authority’s applications for Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) grants.  The FY2022 award will support the airport authority’s goal to attract a nonstop route to the Washington region in order to support primary economic drivers in South Mississippi, including the defense and space industries.

“There are enough federal interests on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to warrant direct flights to Washington, D.C., which we know is the is the top origination and destination market that is not served by a nonstop passenger service,” said Hyde-Smith, ranking Republican on the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds SCASDP.  “I think this is an exciting proposition that would benefit the overall defense and space presence in South Mississippi, and boost the overall economy.”

“South Mississippi’s role in strengthening America’s national defense and innovating in space exploration makes a direct flight to Washington, D.C. a necessity,” said Ezell, a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  “I am grateful for the airport authority’s work to pursue this project, and I look forward to continuing to support this effort and the economic boosts it will bring to our Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

The grant to the Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport Authority provides it with a revenue guarantee to cover recruitment fees and associated marketing plan to recruit, initiate and support new passenger air service between the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and the nation’s capital.

Hyde-Smith and Ezell supported the airport authority’s application preference to establish nonstop flights to Washington Reagan National Airport as the best option to serve Keesler Air Force Base, Naval Construction Battalion, the Air National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center, Huntington Ingalls and other shipbuilders, and NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, and other associated federal agencies and contractors.

The SCASDP grant program is designed to help small communities address air service and airfare issues, including air service deficiencies and propose an appropriate solution.