The U.S. Department of Transportation selected Sun Air Express to provide daily flights from the Macon Regional Airport to Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta.
The bid process was opened after the former provider, Georgia Skies announced it would stop service at Macon Aug. 25, 2012. Federal officials ordered them to continue flights until a replacement airline was chosen, and requested bids from other companies.
Sun Air Express and Twin Air Calypso both offered proposals.
Sun Air Express will provide four nonstop round trips Macon to Atlanta each weekday and four per weekend, for a total of 24 per week. They requested a federal subsidy of $1,946,266 per year.
Twin Air Calypso proposed six daily nonstop roundtrips between Macon and Atlanta for $1,555,825 annually. That's 42 trips a week.
Macon Mayor Robert Reichert expressed his support for Sun Air Express because they already had approval from the Department of Transportation as a commuter air carrier and was finalizing its eligibility with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Twin Air Calypso has an application pending with the Department, but is not approved as a commuter air carrier.
The contract is part of the Department of Transportation's Essential Air Service or EAS program. Macon is eligible for subsidized service, but must fly at least 10 passengers a day to continue to qualify.
The Department of Transportation may cancel the contract if there are not enough passengers. The most recent numbers, from fiscal year 2011, show Georgia Skies flew an average of only three people per day.
Sun Air Express states that its rates will be 50 to 70 percent lower than the current fare, which they hope will increase the number of passengers.
The announcement states that the 2-year contract is also contingent on Sun Air Express meeting all certification and regulation requirements with the Department of Transportation.
According to the announcement, Georgia Skies and Sun Air Express are expected to work together to make the transition smooth.