Southern Airways Express
|Parent company||Southern Airways Corporation|
|Key people||Stan Little (Chairman and CEO)|
Southern Airways Express is a commuter airline operating in the United States, headquartered in One Commerce Square in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee. The airline was founded in 2013, with its first passenger flight operating on 6 June 2013 from Memphis to Destin. On 1 October 2014, Southern Airways Express relocated its Memphis hub from Olive Branch Airport to the Signature terminal of Memphis International Airport.
As a local service airline, Southern Airways Express serves 18 cities in the Southern and Eastern United States, with hubs at Memphis International Airport, Pittsburgh International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Baltimore–Washington International Airport.
In its Gulf Region, Southern operates from executive terminals at primary airports, meaning that passengers are not required to check-in at the main passenger terminals, nor are they required to pass through TSA security screening. In Southern's Mid-Atlantic footprint, which includes the Metropolitan Washington Airports, passengers embark and disembark through the primary terminals.
Stan Little was an attorney based in Hernando, Mississippi who owned a Cessna 208 Caravan. He retained Scott Honnell as his personal pilot, and it was common for Little to have people ask to borrow his plane. Little was usually OK with loaning the plane out, as long as the borrower paid for the pilot and fuel.
The airline was started when Honnell jokingly suggested that Little hire him full-time to start a short-haul carrier, selling seats as a charter. Little initially laughed at the idea, but later that day he began to seriously consider this idea. Little started to read through the United States Department of Transportation regulations when he got back home. He said that the regulations mean that entering the US aviation industry impossible without '$50 million and 5 years of paper work', but he realized that most of the stricter regulations only apply to airlines carrying more than 10 passengers with planes having an empty weight of over 8,500 pounds and using TSA terminals. Since Southern Airways Express does not carry more than 10 passengers per flight, with planes that weigh less than 8,500 gross empty pounds (Cessna 208 Caravans and Piper Chieftain PA-31's), it is exempt from many of these requirements. Little brainstormed potential routes by mapping these routes on a napkin and some dominoes and rearranging them to fit the schedule. A few local investors were convinced that the idea would work, and put up about $750,000 in seed money for specialized logistics software.
The airline started operations in June 2013, with its hubs at Olive Branch Airport as an airport for Memphis, Tennessee, and Destin Executive Airport. First destinations include University-Oxford Airport, Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport, New Orleans Lakefront Airport, and Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. Due to the nature of the flights being public charters, the airline did not originally use TSA terminals. During the first year, the airline was run experimentally, operating different routes to test demand.
Southern Airways Express started flights to DeKalb–Peachtree Airport in September 2013, but the routes were then suspended. Service to DeKalb-Peachtree resumed on 30 May 2014. On 1 October 2014, Southern Airways Express relocated its Memphis hub from Olive Branch Airport to the Private Signature Terminal at Memphis International Airport, which is closer to the Memphis city center.
Southern Airways began operating flights in behalf of Seaport Airlines in the Fall of 2015 but discontinued that service when Seaport filed for bankruptcy in January 2015.
Southern Airways Express announced on March 7, 2016 that it had purchased Fort Lauderdale-based Sun Air Express. The combined airline has since retired Sun Air Express's Piper aircraft in favor of the Cessna Caravan and has retired the Sun Air Express name in all cities that it serves. With the addition in 2016 of Harrisburg, Dubois, and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, along with Morgantown, West Virginia, Southern now serves more cities in Pennsylvania that any other carrier.
With the addition of Nashville (BNA) and Jackson, Mississippi (JAN) in the Gulf footprint, Southern continues its expansion near its hometown.
As of August 2016, the Southern Airways fleet consists of the following aircraft:
|Cessna 208 Caravan||14||9|
|Piper PA-31 Chieftains||9||9|
- "About Us". Southern Airways Express. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
- "Contact Us." Southern Airways Express. Retrieved on November 21, 2014. "Southern Airways Express One Commerce Square, 21st Floor P.O. Box 3088 Memphis, TN 38173"
- "Southern Airways Express Flight 001 Touches down in Destin!". Southern Airways Express Facebook Page. June 6, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
- "Southern Airways Moving Hub to Memphis International". Memphis Daily News. 2014-09-16. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
- Turner, Dennis (2014-09-16). "Southern Airways Express moves to MEM". WREG. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
- "About Us". Southern Airways Express. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- Murff, Richard; Jones, Matthew. "Fly Me to the Gulf". THE BITTER SOUTHERNER. Retrieved 2015-06-25.
- Associated Press (2014-06-07). "Southern Airways Express Tries to Replace Big Airlines One Small Mississippi Airport at a Time". Skift.com. Retrieved 2015-06-28.
- Yamanouhi, Kelly (7 May 2014). "Southern Airways to resume PDK flights". AJC.com. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
- Balouris, Marielena. "Changes coming to local airport". WeAreCentralPA.com. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
- "Southern Airways Express eyes Atlanta Dekalb-Peachtree ops". ch-aviation.ch. Retrieved 2014-10-04.