|Commenced operations||March 6, 2003|
|Ceased operations||April 17, 2006|
|Parent company||Pace Airlines|
|Headquarters||Myrtle Beach, South Carolina|
|Key people||Bob Brooks (founder)|
Hooters Air was an airline headquartered in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Hooters Air flights were operated by Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Pace Airlines both as ad hoc private charters, and as scheduled USDOT public charters. As such, flights operated both under Pace Airlines' IATA Code of Y5 for ad hoc charters, and under its own IATA Code of H1 for public charters.
The airline was established in 2003 and started operations on March 6, 2003. It was founded by Hooters of America restaurant owner Robert Brooks, who acquired Pace Airlines in December 2002. All flights were operated by Pace Airlines. Hooters Air was owned by Hooters of America, Inc. Brooks initially envisioned Hooters Air as an unconventional means of generating awareness for the Hooters restaurant brand; the carrier was sometimes referred to as a "flying billboard" for the restaurant chain.
Aside from its unorthodox neighborhood chain-restaurant tie-in, Hooters Air sought to differentiate itself from other carriers with a distinctive style of in-flight service. The carrier was marketed towards golfers in an effort to bring casual and tournament players to Myrtle Beach's 100+ championship golf courses. Two "Hooters Girls," dressed in their restaurant uniforms, were on each flight assisting the (traditionally attired) in-flight crews with hospitality duties. The company advertised nonstop flights for most routes. Although Hooters Air billed itself as a low-fare carrier, rows of seats were removed from the aircraft to provide 34" seating pitch to all passengers, comparable to the legroom offered by many carriers' business classes; in keeping with the golf-friendly orientation of the carrier, this was called "Club Class" seating. Additionally, all seats were upholstered in dark blue or black leather, and all aircraft were painted in Hooters' orange and white company colors featuring the company logo, and mascot ("Hootie the Owl"), on the vertical stabilizer. Also, at a time when many low-cost carriers were eliminating in-flight frills in an effort to curtail expenses, Hooters Air served complimentary meals to all customers on trips lasting over one hour.
On December 8, 2005, Hooters announced that it would end service to Rockford, Illinois on January 5, 2006, as a result of the airport authority's bringing in a competing airline (United Airlines) on its Rockford-Denver route, and providing revenue guarantees for the competitor.
All commercial services were suspended on January 9, 2006. Parent company Pace Airlines continued with charter services for another three years, ceasing operations in September 2009. On April 17, 2006, Hooters Air ceased operations, halting scheduled Public Charter service and refunding tickets. The company attributed this cessation of service primarily to a marked increase in fuel costs in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the autumn of 2005.
The airline is estimated to have cost Hooters of America $40 million.
Destinations at closure
Service to the following airports ended on April 17, 2006.
- New Jersey
- South Carolina
Destinations ended prior to closure
- Puerto Rico
The Hooters Air fleet consisted of the following aircraft (in 2006):
- In the 2005 comedy album The Right to Bare Arms by Larry the Cable Guy, Larry talks about Hooters Airlines and how he got "80,000 frequent boner miles" and how the flight waitresses took their shorts off when Larry asked where the "cock pit" was. He also said it was the only time he booked an aisle seat and prayed for turbulence.
- In February 2018, Business Insider posted a video on their YouTube Channel "The Rise And Fall Of Hooters Air" charting the history of Hooters Air. The video has been viewed more than 3 million times.
- Flight International Directory: World Airlines, p91, April 3, 2007
- Helyar, John (2003-09-01). "Hooters: A Case Study" (PDF). Fortune. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2007-05-26.
- Horovitz, Bruce. (2013, April 29). Recipe For Success: 2 Cups Not Enough/30 years ago it was, but now Hooters needs to be more. USA TODAY, p 4B.
- "Hooters Air Announces Cancellation of Service in Selected Cities." Hooters Air.
- "Flight Schedules" as of April 6, 2003.
- "Flight Schedules" as of June 6, 2004.
- "Hooters Air Expands Service". PR Newswire. 8 June 2005. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
- "Flight Schedules" page up as of January 8, 2007. Hooters Air.
- Business, Insider. "The Rise And Fall Of Hooters Air". YouTube.
- "Social Blade Profile For Business Insider". Social Blade.