AirTran encourages Gulf Coast rebuilding

AirTran Airways is adding additional nonstop service to Gulfport-Biloxi
International Airport in response to the recovery and growth the area has
seen since Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast last summer.In an effort to encourage rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, the airline
will restart nonstop service between Gulfport/Biloxi and Tampa on July 6,
2006. Additionally, the airline will restart nonstop service between
Gulfport/Biloxi and Fort Lauderdale on August 29, 2006, the one-year
anniversary of when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Mississippi,
Louisiana and Alabama. When the new schedule takes effect, AirTran Airways
will fly to three cities with nonstop service from Gulfport/Biloxi: Tampa,
Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta.
  “The residents of all the Gulf States affected by Hurricane Katrina
have shown the rest of the country their mettle and dedication to
rebuilding their communities and rising above the devastation of the
storm,” said Kevin Healy, AirTran Airways’ vice president of planning.
“AirTran Airways recognizes the growing demand for affordable air travel in
the Gulf region and is honored to serve Gulfport/Biloxi travelers by
offering increased service to the area.”
  Additionally, AirTran Airways has continued its partnerships with local
casinos, and the services will provide customers of the Beau Rivage, the
new Grand Casino Biloxi and the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino additional
options for leisure travel. The airline’s partnerships encourage increased
air service to the region and allow AirTran Airways and its partners to aid
in the ongoing Gulf Coast revitalization.
  “Jet service into the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport is key to
rebuilding the destination,” said George Corchis, president and COO of Beau
Rivage, a division of MGM MIRAGE. “We are pleased to resume our
long-standing partnership with AirTran Airways to provide daily nonstop jet
service between these vital markets and the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” he
  “Harrah’s, along with AirTran Airways, made a strong commitment today
to the local community to help re-grow the Coast to a vibrant tourist and
gaming destination,” said Mickey Parenton, vice president of casino
marketing, Harrah’s Entertainment Gulf Coast Region, parent company of
Grand Casino Biloxi.
  “We are thrilled to partner with AirTran Airways to reintroduce direct
flight service from the Tampa/St. Pete area to Gulfport/Biloxi,” said
Bradley Rhines, vice president of marketing & player development at the IP
Hotel & Casino. “Florida is an important market for the Mississippi Gulf
Coast, and we are very enthusiastic about reestablishing these flights and
welcoming our Tampa and Fort Lauderdale area guests back to the Mississippi
Gulf Coast.”
  “I am very pleased that AirTran Airways will add new daily flights from
Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport to Tampa and Fort Lauderdale,” said
U.S. Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS). “The commitment of AirTran Airways and its
partners is a wonderful illustration of the spirit of business and industry
on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and it’s a great example of the optimism and
confidence so many national and international businesses have in
Mississippi’s economic recovery.”
  “I believe that AirTran Airways’ announcement that it will begin
nonstop service from Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport to Tampa and
Fort Lauderdale is very significant for the economic rebirth of the
Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina,” said U.S. Sen. Thad
Cochran (R-MS). “Air service to these cities was successful before the
storm, and with the reopening of the Beau Rivage, new Grand Casino Biloxi
and the IP Casino Resort, access to these markets sends a very positive
message to the Nation that the Coast is back in business.”
  Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport Authority Chairman Travis Lott
stated, “Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport welcomes the return of
AirTran Airways’ service to Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, two of our most
important leisure and business markets. The private sector coalition
between AirTran Airways, Beau Rivage, the new Grand Casino Biloxi and the
IP Casino Resort will be a major stimulus to tourism, business and
  “The addition of these two new flights and cities will bring total
seats available to 114 percent of pre-Katrina levels, and restore air
service to all nonstop markets we had before the storm,” said
Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport director Bruce Frallic.