TUPELO • The Tupelo Regional Airport Authority board has approved a new contract that will allow Contour Airlines to continue providing air service between Tupelo and Nashville.
The two-year contract is contingent on a legal review. Contour has yet to sign the agreement, which goes into effect Oct. 1.
Contour, based in the Nashville suburb of Smyrna, flies 14 roundtrip flights between Tupelo and Nashville weekly on 30-passenger, twin-engine jets. The service is subsidized through the federal Essential Air Service, which pays Contour $3.8 million. The airline has been providing service in Tupelo since 2016.
SOLAR POWER PURSUIT
The board also voted to pursue grants to buy and install solar panels to help pay for electricity at the airport. Last month, the bill totaled about $15,000.
Construction costs are estimated to be $1 million, and Wheeler said the payback on the project would be approximately seven years.
The solar panels would be placed in the grassy area between the administration building and the terminal and will be fenced.
Airport director Joe Wheeler said the solar panels would be funded entirely through grants.
Previous attempts to install solar panels at the airport using multi-modal project money from the Mississippi Department of Transportation were deemed too large and fell through.
Wheeler will apply for the grants for the solar panels much like he pursued grant money for the tower renovation program. Only $20 million was available for the nearly 120 airports with towers, and Tupelo was able to land a grant because it didn't chase after bigger projects like terminal work.
"It's all competitive and it's a small pot of money, so we're talking about doing it in phases," he said. "Let's hope lightning strikes twice."