New Memphis-based airline Southern Airways Express said it will fly to several southern cities along the Gulf of Mexico, including three locations along the Florida panhandle and near the French Quarter in New Orleans.
The airline will based out of Olive Branch Metro Airport in northern Mississippi and General DeWitt Spain Airport in Memphis. It will fly initially to Panama City, Fla., Downtown Destin, Fla., and Orange Beach, Ala., to Birmingham, Oxford, Miss., and Gulf Shores, Ala., and to New Orleans along the Gulf Coast. The airline will also fly into New Orleans Lakefront Airport on Lake Pontchartrain, some 10 miles away from the French Quarter.
"We're going to fly out of Downtown Destin Airport," said Southern Airways CEO Stan Little. "Not the Fort Walton Beach air force base area (Eglin Air Force Base) where all the air carriers go but right downtown; also into Panama City Beach, and we'll be going into New Orleans Lakefront Airport out of Memphis."
The new start-up regional airline will have daily non-stop service to beach locations as well as Birmingham, Ala., and Oxford, Miss.
The first flights are expected to start May 29. Prices will range $129-$249.
"One of the things we are going to do is fly out of Olive Branch, Miss., and out of DeWitt Spain in Downtown Memphis," Little said. "That's going to save us a lot of money on overhead. It's going to put us flying out of airports closer to where most people live."
Southern Airways Express will use 10-passenger, turbo-jet-powered corporate planes with all-leather seating and complimentary iPads for customer entertainment (which you can't keep).
"We have a fuel-efficient aircraft that we can take nine people up to 500 miles away for what most of major carriers, what have of them would charge," Little said.
The new start-up airline will offer no parking fees, no TSA checkpoints, no baggage fees, and plans to have lower fares than those with flights out of Memphis International.
One of the best perks about this airline is you can board 15 minutes before your flight and land in leather seats.
"I've spent most of my life here and I, like you and everybody else that lives in the metropolitan area knows what it's like to try and fly out of Memphis," Little said. "We have one dominant carrier and they're going to be the dominant carrier but a few of us can chip away at the edges."
Another unique perk is that you will not have to go through TSA. Instead when you purchase a ticket the airline will run a background check.
"When someone buys a ticket on Southern Airways Express online or at our call center, their name will immediately be run through a system of background checks," Little said. "So we will know if we have a passenger who maybe problematic or can't fly at all."
Little said if you pass his airline's background check when you purchase the ticket, you will be able to walk through the terminal and right onto the aircraft.
"The moment anybody buys a ticket and they have to buy a ticket at least an hour before the plane takes off because we have to have time to do an electronic background check with the TSA and the federal database," Little added. "If we come across a passenger that has proven could be an issue than that person won't be allowed to embark on the plane."
Little said his pilots can use their discretion on a case by case basis. No one intoxicated will be allowed on board either. Little says they worked on streamlining the airport experience.
"Please know that when I had this idea, and when my associates in the company helped me refine these ideas, we thought what are all the things we don't like about air travel," he said.
For now, they plan to service a few daily flights out of the Memphis area. But you may also be able to catch a jaw-dropping special, like a Sunday red eye from Oxford to Destin.
"Going to be sold for $18 a seat," Little said.
FOX13 News reporter Bofta Yimam contributed to this report.
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