Saturday, May 11, 2013

New air service to be unveiled -- Southern Airways to announce flights: Olive Branch, DeSoto County, Mississippi

OLIVE BRANCH -- Southern Airways Express, a new regional air carrier, on Monday will announce its summer schedule to five primarily summer vacation spots, the company's chairman and CEO said Friday.

The carrier will fly out of Olive Branch Airport and another small Memphis area airport that also will be announced Monday, said Stan Little,  who is also a Hernando attorney.

"Beginning in the fall, we will be unveiling a route map of more business-related destinations, all of which are pretty much within a 500-mile radius of DeSoto County and most of which are routes that have been been dropped by the major carrier," he said.

The Monday press conference and reception will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Olive Branch Airport. He said the public is invited and will have an opportunity to board one or two of the aircraft and talk to company leaders and other employees.

The company will use 10-passenger, luxury executive-style turboprop-powered aircraft.

Little said the service will be the first scheduled air service to be operated from DeSoto County.

"Prior to our arrival, the only way you could fly out of DeSoto County was if you owned a plane or chartered an entire plane yourself, which would be several thousand dollars to do," he said.

Little views the new carrier's major competitor as the automobile rather than he "legacy carriers'" that fly out of Memphis International Airport.

"Our goal is to provide passengers with a similar experience to what those of us with a private plane have," he said. "We studied almost every route that has been dropped by the major carrier in Memphis in the last couple of years.

"We came up with ones that we think are high demand, high volume out of this area and that are places where people really want to go and most of the time now they have had to resort to driving."

A company announcement says there will be no parking fees, no baggage fees, plane-side car rental pickup and "no TSA hassles."

Also, Little said, "What we are going to do is provide people an option that is a lot faster than driving. It is a lot faster than what they do on the legacy carrier. It is less expensive than the legacy carrier and in some cases, less expensive than driving."

Little said the carrier plans to provide service at another Mississippi airport in addition to Olive Branch and the small Memphis airport.

Little said check-in time for flights will be 15 minutes before departure.

The company headquarters is  at One Commerce Square in downtown Memphis that is part of Pinnacle Airlines Corp.'s old space.


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