The airline was started in February 1984, by attorneys Michael Hollis and Daniel Kolber. Besides operating point to point service as an independent air carrier, it also provided passenger feed for Pan American World Airways as "Air Atlanta Pan Am Express", connecting the international airline to points within the contiguous 48 states that were served by Air Atlanta. The first route was Memphis-Atlanta with the first flight being operated on 1 February 1984 using a Boeing 727-100. Other cities served were Fort Myers, Miami, New York, Orlando and Philadelphia. What made Air Atlanta most unique; every seat was a first class seat with meals served on white linen, fine China and crystal. The airline flew three million passengers before it shut down on April 2, 1987 when it filed bankruptcy. At the time it filed, KLM offered to invest $10 million in Air Atlanta if the existing investors would match it. The existing investors declined even though Air Atlanta was making progress. Air Atlanta had a perfect safety record and was responsible for many innovations in the airline industry including with respect to financing its operations through the use of the zero coupon convertible note. .
The majority of the flights operated by Air Atlanta were operated to and from Atlanta (ATL) on a nonstop point to point basis. Several exceptions were nonstop service operated between New York JFK Airport and Lewisburg, WV via the Greenbrier Valley Airport (LWB), between New York JFK Airport and Philadelphia (PHL) as well as between Tampa (TPA) and Orlando (MCO) and also between Tampa and Fort Myers (RSW).