Macon's skyline (Flickr:Ficklingandco)
MACON, Ga. -- The company that won a federal contract last year to run air service between Macon and Atlanta now says they won't be coming to town after all.
Sun Air notified the federal Department of Transportation last month that they recently began service in three other markets -- in Texas, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
They've encountered problems getting service up and running in those markets and have decided they don't want to start up in Macon after all.
Macon spokesman Chris Floore says the city was notified Tuesday that Sun Air would be withdrawing from the market.
According to a city news release, Macon Airport Manager Doug Faour says the bid process for a new passenger service provider will be reopened within the next few weeks.
Faour told the DOT that the city wants an airline willing to expand beyond the Essential Air Service program.
On Dec. 20, Sun Air president David Hackett wrote to the DOT: "We have clearly encountered greater challenges than anticipated in completing our pilot recruiting and training. Getting
maintenance bases established that meet our requirements in Texas and MD/PA has also been more difficult than we expected.
"The result of these circumstances is that our operations have not been up to the standards we and the communities expect.
"As a result, we have made the decision to concentrate our available resources on the VCT, LNS and HGR markets and to withdraw from serving the Macon, GA market."
The current airline, Georgia Skies, wants to pull out of Macon. But the federal government has required them to keep running until a replacement is found.
In 2011, three people a day boarded those flights in Macon.
A study by the Georgia Department of Transportation says the Macon airport contributes almost 2000 jobs and $200 million to the local economy.