Wings Air grounds Macon-to-Atlanta service

Wings Air, one of two commuter airlines flying out of Macon’s Middle Georgia Regional Airport, announced today that it is grounding its flights to Atlanta, citing “insufficient ridership.”

The airline will also “temporarily suspend” service out of Athens to Atlanta, according to a company new release. Company officials blamed “predatory pricing” by its competitor, Georgia Skies, and the refusal of the U.S. Department of Transportation suspend a subsidy to the competing carrier for its “severely impacted” revenue, according to the release.

The release also said about half of Wings Air’s staff had been laid off or furloughed.

“There are other non-subsidized markets that we will now focus on that are in need of our type of service and provide a level playing field.” President Charlie Mintz said in the release. “It is unfortunate that the DOT failed to see the illogic in subsidizing a carrier that was providing inferior service. It’s just not possible for us to compete against pricing that has no other purpose than to drive us from the market while they exist on federal funds”.

Calls to Mintz and Georgia Skies President and CEO Greg Kahlstorf were not immediately returned.

In May, the federal DOT selected Georgia Skies to replace Atlantic Southeast Airlines to provide subsidized air service from the Macon airport to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. In September, Wings Air announced it would offer flights, which are not subsidized, between Macon and Atlanta. Wings Air asked the DOT to terminate the subsidy to Georgia Skies, claiming the airline had not lived up to its promise of seamless service to Atlanta airport because had to take ground transportation and get security clearance after landing there.

In documents filed with the DOT, Wings Air claimed that Georgia Skies was using its subsidy “as a war chest or platform in an effort to drive a competitor (Wings Air) from the market.”