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Posted: 3:37 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013

New airline coming to Atlanta to bring personal touch

By Veronica Waters

A Memphis-based airline is starting flights out of Atlanta for travelers who don't want to deal with the hubbub of a big, international airport on a little trip.

Southern Airways Express COO Keith Sisson tells WSB that his business partner was always getting requests from people who wanted to rent his airplane.  That was how the idea for the new short-haul airplane was born.

"We just knew that there had to be a way for the general public to experience what it's like to own your own airplane," says Sisson.  "Now, the general public, for tickets starting off at $129, can get that private plane-ownership experience."

In two months, the airline peaked at just fewer than 100 flights per week, during a busy week in July.  Sisson says starting after Labor Day, the Memphis-based carrier will link Atlanta's PDK Airport to cities including Destin, Memphis, and Birmingham.  Other destinations from the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport will include Gulf Shoals, Alabama, and Oxford, Mississippi.  Flights are on sale on the website, iflysouthern.com, now.  Knoxville, Panama City, and New Orleans are also part of their route matrix.

Southern Airways Express doesn't charge baggage fees, parking fees, or come with the long lines of TSA security and long wait times at the gate, says Sisson.

"You just show up 20 to 30 minutes before your flight, you walk on the plane, and you go--and you're treated like a human being that owns an airplane," he says. 

Their fleet of turboprops includes three Cessna Caravans and one Beechcraft King Air.

The pilots greet each passenger personally and, he says, dress like Pan Am captains from the '60s.  Sisson says they're making flying fun again. 

"Because we're a Memphis-based airline, of course all of our captains wear blue suede shoes," laughs Sisson.

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