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JMAA Chairman: Southwest is back thanks to hard work, new state flag

The new state flag flies above the Mississippi State Capitol
The new state flag flies above the Mississippi State Capitol(WLBT)
Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 7:08 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A decision to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the Mississippi State Flag likely is a major reason Southwest Airlines has returned to Jackson, so says JMAA Chairman Robert Martin.

JMAA is the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority. The agency oversees operations at the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport and Hawkins Field.

Airport executives hosted a ribbon-cutting at Jackson-Evers Monday to welcome the airline back to the capital city.

“One of the main reasons that Southwest came back, hard solicitation, but the flag,” Martin told the city council Tuesday. “They see Mississippi as now moving forward and they wanted to be a part of that.”

Martin added that Southwest recognized Mississippi as a “good market,” and as the only state in the South that they were not serving.

“Through Mr. Brown’s effort, putting people in headlocks and twisting arms, it was an easy task to get them here,” he said.

Brown is Paul Brown, CEO of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority.

Meanwhile, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba doubled down on his stance that the city will not give up the airport to the state.

Jackson and JMAA are currently fighting the state’s attempted takeover of the airport in U.S. District Court. A portion of the case is also on appeal to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

State lawmakers approved legislation doing away with JMAA in 2016. Part of the argument was that Jackson-Evers was poorly run. Lawmakers cited the fact that Southwest had left the airport a few years before.

With the return of Southwest and with the airport on tap to break its travel record again in 2021, Lumumba said those points are moot.

“You have the rhetoric and then the reality. The rhetoric talks about the airport and all the reasons why they want to take it over, which basically comes back to controls and property, versus the reality of an airport that has broken its all-time record with over 1 million passengers in 2019, an airport that has brought back a low-cost carrier and has more carriers after a pandemic than before,” Lumumba said. “We are going to keep our airport, period.”

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