Southern Airways Acquires Mokulele Airlines

Becomes the largest commuter airline in the 50 States

756
0

Southern Airways, operator of 600 weekly flights across 20 cities, has acquired Hawaii-based Mokulele Airlines. The deal is Southern’s third in the last four years, firmly cementing itself as America’s fastest growing airline.

With established footprints in the Gulf South, the mid-Atlantic, and South Florida, Southern now adds Hawaii and California to its portfolio. Following the integration of the two airlines, the combined entity will operate 1,380 weekly flights, more than any other commuter airline in the 50 states. Terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.

Southern began in 2013 by offering flights from Memphis, Tenn. to Destin, Fla. using a total of four pilots and three aircraft. In 2015, Southern acquired Executive Express Aviation, the Illinois- based charter company that was previously contracted to operate Southern’s flight schedule. In February 2016, Southern acquired Sun Air Express, a commuter airline operating Essential Air Service (EAS) contracts in the mid-Atlantic. Today, Southern still operates routes in those original Sun Air-served Pennsylvania and Maryland communities, plus three additional cities in the mid-Atlantic, along with three EAS cities in Arkansas. In November 2018, Southern launched service between Palm Beach, Tampa, and Key West, replacing routes abandoned by Silver Airways.

Mokulele Airlines, founded in 1994 by Rebecca “Kawehi” Inaba, was the first airline started by a native Hawaiian woman. The airline was sold in 2005 and had multiple ownership changes, until it found stability with its latest ownership group, Transpac Aviation, Inc. Since 2011, Mokulele has grown to 15 aircraft serving 11 cities, including four EAS communities. Mokulele currently operates 787 weekly departures.

“We’ve looked at several potential acquisitions over the last couple of years,” said Stan Little, Chairman and CEO of Southern. “This was the first opportunity that I believed to be the perfect complement to operation. We fly the same aircraft type, we have similar operational structures, and their assets and revenue streams help diversify our balance sheet. This acquisition will give the newly-combined company stability in an otherwise volatile marketplace, while making Southern Airways a nationally-recognized brand.”

One of Southern’s goals for the expanded company will be to obtain additional interline ticket and baggage agreements with major carriers. Southern has interline agreements with American Airlines and Condor Airlines, while Mokulele has agreements with Alaska Airlines and Air New Zealand. Expanding those partnerships to include multiple national and global carriers will be the focus post-integration.

Unlike Southern’s previous two acquisitions, which included name changes and rebranding, Southern intends to keep the Mokulele brand alive and well in the Hawaiian Islands, while eventually operating all flights on the Southern Airways FAA operating certificate. “The Mokulele

brand is beloved in the Hawaiian Islands,” explained Little. “I’ve found their aloha spirit to be very similar to our company’s core values, so we are truly excited about adding the Mokulele name to the Southern family of companies. Further, we are pleased to announce that Rebecca “Kawehi” Inaba, the founder of the airline, is returning to the company as Community Relations Advisor.”

Southern is coming off a record-setting year for passenger growth in its Essential Air Service cities with some communities seeing 40 percent increases in traffic over the previous year, and many airports having had their best year for enplanements in more than a decade. Southern has also posted some of the best performance statistics in the industry, completing over 99 percent of its scheduled EAS flights in the last six months.

Passengers seeking more information about Southern Airways may call the customer service center at 1-800-329-0485 or visit Southern’s website at, www.iFlySouthern.com. Mokulele’s website is www.MokuleleAirlines.com.

For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Todd Smith (t.smith@iFlySouthern.com 615-202-7944) or Southern’s chief marketing officer, Keith Sisson (k.sisson@iFlySouthern.com 228-313-9920).

SOURCEAero Crew News, March 2019
Previous articleMarch 2019
Next articleMaking Financial Sense
Southern Airways Express
Southern Airways Express is a Mississippi-based airline, offering scheduled regional air service to over twenty cities in the Gulf and Mid-Atlantic regions. Southern operates a fleet of two dozen aircraft, including the Cessna Caravan and Grand Caravan, as well as the Piper Chieftain. Founded in 2013, Southern has experienced tremendous growth based on our commitment to the individual passenger, which is recognized in our company mantra of “Every Passenger, Every Day, Every Flight.” This mantra has encapsulated our thinking and our core values since Day One. When we started Southern Airways, it was literally an idea on the back of a cocktail napkin. More than that first sketch of a route map, though, it was the idea that people will notice and consistently choose an airline that actually cares about their happiness. And in that first year of operating two (nine-seat) planes, we had to make sure that every one of those eighteen daily passengers left happy! Now, four years later, Southern Airways Corporation owns two FAA Operating Certificates (a scheduled Part 135 and an on-demand Part 135). We’ve grown the fleet from two planes to twenty-four, and we’re flying more than 100 daily departures. Nevertheless, all of us at Southern remain ever-mindful of those first days of the airline— we know we must take care of “Every Passenger, Every Day, on Every Flight.” Whether you’re flying from one of our twenty-two cities or you’re hoping to become a member of the Southern Airways family as a pilot or team member, we look forward to welcoming you aboard.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.