SeaPort Airlines to start flights from Memphis to Jonesboro, El Dorado, Harrison, Hot Springs

Sunday, July 12, 2009, 11:03 by Aviation Correspondent

SeaPort Airlines plans to provide leisure and business services to four Arkansas cities from a hub in Memphis. It will fly three round-trip flights daily in weekdays and three round-trip fights in weekends to Jonesboro, El Dorado, Harrison and Hot Springs. The air service contract was accepted by the airline from the U.S department of transportation.

“The size of the communities, the routes and the Arkansas geography are much like the ones the company flies now and is made for good fit,” said SeaPort CEO Kent Craford.

“Our platform is the right size for these communities. We want to give them sustainable air service for a change rather than their old airlines that would come and go and had aircraft that couldn’t make the flights”, he added.

The lowest fare will be $49 to Jonesboro and the highest fare will be $109 to Hot Springs.

This will be the first time SeaPort Airlines will operate outside Pacific Northwest where it has flown for more than a year. The airline operates 36 flights to five cities from Seattle.

SeaPort Airlines recently won a federal air service contract worth more than $6 million over two years.

SeaPort Airlines from Alaska Juneau Aeronautics has been operating flights since 1983, and flies Swiss made Pilatus PC-12s that accommodates nine passengers.

Therefore, SeaPort falls below the Transportation Security Administration’s passenger threshold and can avoid security screen for its passengers.

“Passengers are asked to show up 15 minutes before the scheduled flight time with their luggage and carry-ons and then board the plane,” Craford said.

SeaPort Airlines at present provides services to Pacific Northwest, connecting Portland with Pendleton and three other places in Oregon and Washington.

In early 2009, SeaPort Airlines added flight services to Newport and Astoria, expanding its network in the Northwest.

“The company aims to further expand its reach with more advertising and other connections. That includes local businesses, hotels and traditional travel agents – a ‘critically important’ method that 50 percent of travelers still use,” Craford said.

SeaPort Airlines is also trying to make their e-tickets available on online agencies like Orbitz and Expedia.