Will Focus On Charter Ops
After a moderately
successful three-year run, Hooters Air announced Wednesday the
airline is ending regularly scheduled passenger service, effective
Many in the industry saw the end
coming, especially after Hooters ended holiday service
to several cities at the end of last year. High fuel prices are
considered the most likely culprit for the airline's failure.
From now on, the airline will focus exclusively on charter
flights for sports teams and tour groups -- the original business
model for Hooters Air operator Pace Airlines, which Hooters founder
Bob Brooks purchased in 2002.
The end of Hooters comes as a disappointment to several cities
still served by the airline, including Myrtle Beach, SC.
"There is no good news to reduction of air service, particularly
direct flights," Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area
Chamber of Commerce, told the Myrtle Beach Sun News. "In the case
of Hooters, there's a double whammy. Fewer flights mean fewer
people coming to the destination."
Hooters Air had ceased operations in Myrtle Beach in February,
but airline officials had told the city it would resume service in
Dean added Hooters Air "was flying in 1,000 to 1,200 passengers
a week on average. That's noteworthy. Hooters Air brought in
tourists, and that benefited the market. Some people might say it's
only 1,000 a week. But what you don't know is the impact on
Some of the 350 people at Hooters Air's home office in
Winston-Salem, NC will lose their jobs during the transition to
charter-only service, said airline president Mark Peterson, as will
ticket agents and other employees at former Hooters
At its inception in 2003, Brooks
said he planned to "have a little fun" in an industry he said had
always fascinated him. Already a wealthy man from the successful
chain of restaurants known for its chicken wings -- served by
waitresses in tight shirts and skimpy shorts, of course -- Brooks
invested in Pace Airlines, with its small fleet of Boeing 737
and 757 aircraft, to fly to a variety of destinations.
The model worked for awhile -- low prices, desirable
destinations and, er, friendly flight attendants (each Hooters Air
flight featured two Hooters servers onboard) kept the planes
flying, both hauling passengers and serving as highly-recognizable
billboards for Hooters restaurants.
Brooks said Wednesday he saw no need to throw good money after
"The flying industry is in a terrible mess," Brooks said. "I've
got a fair amount of money, but I don't have enough to fix this
animal... I think the best thing we can do is basically put it to
bed, at least for right now, until the industry changes."
While his airline may have failed, Brooks may take some comfort
in Hooters' recent string of successes, including a Las Vegas
casino, credit card, and magazine. And, of course, there are the
restaurants -- with about 80 more planned to open this year, 60 of