Officials working to bring commercial flights to Natchez-Adams Airport

Published 3:45 pm Wednesday, May 5, 2021

NATCHEZ — Officials are working to recruit small commercial airlines to become regular tenants at the Natchez-Adams County Airport.

During Monday’s meeting of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, board president Angela Hutchins named Boutique Air Inc., an airline fleeted with small 9-passenger planes, as a prospect for the airport.

Hutchins said she and Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson, Supervisor Wes Middleton and Director of Aviation Richard Nelson recently traveled to a meeting in Greenville, where Boutique Air has regular flights to Dallas and Nashville and most recently added flights to New Orleans.

Gibson said Wednesday they talked with Greenville Mayor Erick Simmons to set up a meeting with the airline to discuss putting Natchez on their flightpath.

“We hope that meeting will be confirmed very soon,” he said.

Hutchins said the airline could have as many as three flights a day to and from the Natchez-Adams County Airport. The airport has not had a commercial passenger service in decades, Gibson said.

“It was thought that passenger service was a little further out but we think it should now become top priority because we have opportunity and now is a good time. We have employers in the area, tourism partners and even the film industry urging us to move forward with getting commercial service established in Natchez,” he said. “It was there many years ago. … I’m told it has been gone for 20 or 30 years — maybe longer than that — and it’s time to bring it back.”

Improvements are needed to make the airport ready for commercial service, including revitalization of the airport terminal, which opened in 1959, with important equipment additions such as a cashier’s station and x-ray machines, he said.

Last month, the airport received $25,000 from the Community Development Fund setup by Magnolia Bluffs Casino and Hotel to purchase a new tractor and tug used to reposition aircraft and maintain the 880 acres of the airport as well as some additional mowing and grounds keeping equipment.

“This equipment is critical to keeping the facility in first class shape,” Nelson said.

Officials also included another $1.7 million in a wish list for federal funds to revitalize the airport terminal. The airport itself was built in 1946 and consequentially many of its runways and taxiways are outdated with only two runways still in use today, according to the airport website.

Such improvements were listed in the airport’s 20-year master plan unveiled in January 2020, which is required by the FAA for the airport to receive grants.

The New Orleans firm of Kutchins & Groh spent more than a year creating the master plan, which also lists the need for runway lighting improvements and possibly relocating the rotating beacon and its tower.