Southern Airways Express
IATA ICAO Callsign
9X FDY FRIENDLY
Founded2013
AOC #141A246O[1]
Hubs
SubsidiariesMokulele Airlines
Fleet size51
Destinations36[2]
HeadquartersPalm Beach, Florida, U.S.
Key peopleStan Little (Chairman & CEO)[3]
Employees675
Websiteiflysouthern.com

Southern Airways Express is a commuter airline operating across the United States with headquarters in Palm Beach, Florida.[4] Southern Airways acts as a local service airline for dozens of cities across all U.S. time zones. Approximately one third of its routes are subsidized through the Essential Air Service program by the United States Department of Transportation.[5][6]

In its Gulf, New England, and Hawaiian Regions, Southern operates from executive terminals, meaning that passengers are not required to check-in at the main passenger terminals, nor are they required to pass through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security screening.[7] In Southern's mid-Atlantic, Rocky Mountain, and California footprints, passengers embark and disembark through the primary secured (TSA) terminals. Southern has interlining agreements with Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and United Airlines which provides passengers through-ticketing and baggage transfers.

History

Southern Airways Express Cessna Caravan

Southern Airways Express was founded in 2013 by Stan Little, a litigation attorney in Hernando, Mississippi. Little owned a Golden Eagle 421 which was never used by the airline, although his private pilot, Scott Honnoll, did transition to the airline and advanced to the role of assistant chief pilot before returning to general aviation in November 2015. Southern's initial funding was secured by a group of unknown investors, many of whom are believed to be connected to the University of Mississippi, the alma mater of Little and co-founder Keith Sisson.

The airline launched operations in June 2013, with its first flight from Olive Branch Airport near Memphis, Tennessee, to Destin Executive Airport.[8] Early destinations included 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.[9]

In its first year, Southern operated as a DOT Part 380 scheduled charter provider, with the flights being operated by Executive Express Aviation of Sugar Grove, Ill. In March 2014, Southern made its first acquisition, acquiring Executive Express and its FAA charter certificate, retaining all of its employees in the process. (Executive Express Aviation was later sold to FLOAT Shuttle in 2019 for an undisclosed sum, when all Southern-operated flights were consolidated to its primary certificate.)

In the fall of 2015, Southern Airways began operating its first Essential Air Service flights on behalf of SeaPort Airlines, but it discontinued that service when Seaport Airlines filed for bankruptcy in January 2016. A year later, Southern Airways was awarded Seaport's former routes to Arkansas' Boone County Airport, Hot Springs Memorial Field Airport, and South Arkansas Regional Airport, and enplanements have grown markedly at all three cities in the years since.

On March 7, 2016, Southern announced its second acquisition, Fort Lauderdale-based Sun Air Express. Sun Air flew multiple EAS routes in the mid-Atlantic region, immediately strengthening Southern's presence in the federal program. The airline retired all of Sun Air's aging Piper aircraft in favor of the newer, turbine-powered Cessna Caravan, and it retired the Sun Air name from use in scheduled service. Following the acquisition of Sun, the operational headquarters of Southern Airways was relocated from Memphis to Pompano Beach, Florida.

In June 2018, Southern became an interline partner with American Airlines, allowing for single-ticketing and baggage transfers between Southern and American.

In February 2019, Southern Airways acquired Mokulele Airlines, its third airline acquisition in five years. The Hawaii-based commuter airline also flew the Cessna Caravan, making it a logical target for Southern. Since the acquisition, Southern has worked to retain and strengthen the Mokulele brand in the Hawaiian islands and now serves 10 airports in the state. It is the largest inter-island carrier by daily departures. Southern recently announced its intention to bring 30-seat aircraft to its Hawaiian footprint to add to its 14 Caravans operating in the state. In addition, Southern/Mokulele has partnered with California-based AmpAire to bring hybrid-electric aircraft to Hawaii. The initial test flights took place in December 2020.

Also in 2019, Southern Airways launched operations in New England with initial service to Nantucket, MA, Boston/Norwood, MA, and Providence, RI. On September 28, 2020, New Bedford, MA, was announced as the fourth destination in the region, and Southern's second metro-Boston airport, Hanscom Field, was added in 2021. Southern also began weekly seasonal service from Lancaster, PA, to Nantucket in 2021.[10] On April 30, 2019, it was announced that SkyWest has a strategic minority investment in the company.[11]

Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a mandatory inter-island quarantine in Hawaii, Southern/Mokulele announced its fourth acquisition: Honolulu-based Makani Kai Air, a division of Schuman Aviation. CEO Richard Schuman joined Mokulele as its Executive Vice President for Hawaii, and the Makani Kai Aircraft began the transition to Mokulele livery. As of May 2021, Southern/Mokulele was operating 220 peak-day departures system-wide, with approximately 120 of those in Hawaii.[12]

In June 2021, Southern switched its east coast hub from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Washington Dulles International Airport, where it offers the third-highest number of daily destinations behind United Airlines and Delta Air Lines.[13]

The Southern Airways Express Saab 340s started operating in Hawai'i in July 2022, with service linking Honolulu to Lana'i and Moloka'i. The planes will not take on the Mokulele brand, instead retaining the Southern Airways continental livery.[14]

On March 28, 2022, it was announced that Air Choice One was being acquired by Southern Airways Corporation (SAC), parent company of Southern Airways Express, but keeping both air operator's certificates separate.[15]

On March 30, 2023, it was announced that the Marianas Southern Airways division of the airline was withdrawing from the CNMI, citing "unwillingness of Governor Arnold Palacios to honor the contract signed by the previous administration".[16]

Destinations

Main article: List of Southern Airways Express destinations

Seaplane codeshare agreement

In early 2020, Southern Airways became the exclusive codeshare partner for Tailwind Air Service. Southern markets and sells the flights under its 9X code on both its reservation system and the Global Distribution Systems. Tailwind Air Service, a scheduled passenger and charter seaplane operator, is the operator of the flights.[17]

Interline agreements

Southern Airways Express has interline agreements with Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and United Airlines which provides passengers through-ticketing and baggage transfers.[18]

CampusConnection

Southern provides an extra discount at select colleges/universities that participate in the Campus Connection program for students, faculty, and parents.[19]

Fleet

Southern Airways Express operates the following aircraft:[20]

Type Fleet Orders Passengers Notes
Cessna 208 Caravan 28 9 Mix of A, B and EX models
11 Also operated by Mokulele Airlines
Cessna Citation II 1 Operated by Southern Private Jets[21]
Pilatus PC-12 6 8
Regent Monarch 5[22] 100 Electric ground-effect vehicles
Regent Viceroy 15[22] 12
Saab 340B Plus 2 1 30 Operated for Mokulele Airlines
Tecnam P2012 Traveller 3 9 Branded as Marianas Southern Airways
Total 51 21

References

  1. ^ "Federal Aviation Administration – Airline Certificate Information – Detail View". av-info.faa.gov. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  2. ^ "Southern Airways Express on ch-aviation.com". ch-aviation.com. Retrieved 21 November 2023.
  3. ^ "About Us". Southern Airways Express. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Contact Us". Southern Airways Express. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  5. ^ "About Us". Southern Airways Express. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
  6. ^ "Southern Airways Express secures more EAS contracts". ch-aviation.
  7. ^ Murff, Richard; Jones, Matthew. "Fly Me to the Gulf". THE BITTER SOUTHERNER. Retrieved 2015-06-25.
  8. ^ "Southern Airways Express Flight 001 Touches down in Destin!". Southern Airways Express Facebook Page. June 6, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  9. ^ "Southern Airways Express Tries to Replace Big Airlines One Small Mississippi Airport at a Time". Skift.com. Associated Press. 2014-06-07. Retrieved 2015-06-28.
  10. ^ "Southern Airways extends service in New Bedford, plans to base New England fleet at airport". southcoasttoday.com. Retrieved 2020-11-04.
  11. ^ Express, Southern Airways (2019-04-30). "Southern Airways Announces Strategic Minority Investment By SkyWest, New Alliance Between the Companies". GlobeNewswire News Room. Retrieved 2022-04-05.
  12. ^ "Southern Airways to Bring Larger Turboprop Aircraft to Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi | Maui Now". | Southern Airways to Bring Larger Turboprop Aircraft to Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi. Retrieved 2021-05-18.
  13. ^ "News for Airlines, Airports and the Aviation Industry | CAPA". centreforaviation.com.
  14. ^ "Interview: The Southern Airways Express Saab340 Unveiled – AirlineGeeks.com". AirlineGeeks.com – LIVE. LOVE. AVIATION. March 10, 2022.
  15. ^ DELT. "Multi-Aero Inc. d/b/a Air Choice One to be Acquired by Southern Airways Corporation". Air Choice One. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  16. ^ "Southern Airways Withdrawing from CNMI - New Government Unwilling to Honor Contract for Passenger Air Service" (PDF). 2023-03-30. Retrieved 2023-06-10.
  17. ^ "Tailwind Air Service to launch commuter ops in New York". ch-aviation. Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  18. ^ "American Airlines interline with Southern Airways could benefit El Dorado". El Dorado News Times. 2019-11-06. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  19. ^ "Campus – SOUTHERN AIRWAYS EXPRESS". iflysouthern.com. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  20. ^ "Southern Airways Express FAA Aircraft Registration". ch-aviation.ch. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  21. ^ "Charters – SOUTHERN AIRWAYS EXPRESS". iflysouthern.com. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  22. ^ a b "Southern Airways Express Purchases 20 REGENT Seagliders for their U.S. East Coast Operations in $250M Deal". December 1, 2021.