Southwest Airlines returns to Jackson Airport on Sunday – Magnolia State Live
After seven years, Southwest Airlines returns to Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport on Sunday, June 6.
The airline returns with non-stop flights to Atlanta (ATL), Baltimore-Washington (BWI), Houston-Hobby (HOU) and Orlando (MCO).
Southwest Airlines will begin offering flights to and from the Mississippi capital in 2021, about seven years after the low-cost carrier discontinued service.
In October 2020, Southwest Chairman and CEO Gary C. Kelly announced that the airline would return to Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport and add services to Colorado Springs Municipal Airport and the Savannah / Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia.
“We are leveraging additional airports in key cities where our customer base is important, while facilitating access to popular leisure destinations across our national network,” said Kelly.
Southwest offered flights to and from Jackson Airport for 17 years, but that ended in June 2014. That departure was one of the reasons the state attempted to take control of the city airport board, triggering a lawsuit that is still ongoing.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba praised the Jackson Airport board and CEO for working to bring the carrier back.
“This is great news for our city and great news for travelers across the region who do not have access to accessible flights and low fares in the South West,” Lumumba said in a press release.
The city of Jackson sued in 2016 to block a law signed by the government of the day. Phil Bryant, who allegedly removed Jackson’s role in appointing the five-member board of directors overseeing the airport.
The law would have created a new council of nine people, four of whom would be appointed by the governor or his appointees. Jackson’s mayor and city council would each get one nomination; suburban Madison and Rankin counties would each get one; and the lieutenant governor would get someone appointed.
Lawmakers pushing for the change argued, in part, that Southwest’s departure was evidence of mismanagement on the part of the airport’s board of directors, even though airline executives have said that the decision was made for financial reasons.
Jackson and airport officials called the airport restructuring law a hostile takeover. The Federal Aviation Administration has said it will not consider approving any changes until the courts resolve the dispute.
Democratic Senator John Horhn from Jackson told WLBT-TV that with Southwest’s return, he wanted to try to repeal the Airport Board Restructuring Act.
“The arguments at the start were hollow,” Horhn said. “They were just smokescreens to cover the Republicans’ desire to… control the airport and wrest control from the city of Jackson.”
Republican Senator Josh Harkins of Brandon said Southwest’s decision to return to Jackson’s market does not change his view that the airport needs regional leadership.
“It’s not a takeover in my mind, but an expansion of the board,” Harkins said.