MUSCLE SHOALS – The Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (MSL) has selected Boutique Air to provide essential air service from Muscle Shoals to Atlanta and Nashville. Boutique Air will provide 24 round trip flights a week. Two flights a day will go from Muscle Shoals to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and two flights a day will go to Nashville International Airport (BNA). The dual hub market approach presented by Boutique Air CEO Shawn Simpson was the deciding factor for the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport Authority Board members. Airport Director – Barry Griffith said that this was the best proposal out of the four (4) airlines that bid for service. By having the Atlanta connection passengers can connect to over 1200 flights per day to anywhere in the world. Businessman and Board Member Joe McKinney said that this is great news for the business traveler who can leave MSL in the morning and return later that evening. For the leisure traveler Nashville is a destination market that serves over 50 markets with 390 flights a day with both Southwest and Jet Blue Airlines as low cost carriers. Boutique Air is already located in the Nashville International Airport and is servicing Greenville, Mississippi with two flights a day.
Sub-committee members who made the recommendation to the Airport Board consisted of Mayor David Bradford, Steve Holt, President, Chamber of Commerce, Barry Auchly, Chairman, Air Services Committee and Airport Board Member, Rick Elliott, Chairman, Airport Authority and Joe McKinney, Local Business Owner and Airport Board Member. Mayor David Bradford submitted a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) giving Boutique Air the community endorsement for the new service.
We have had some setbacks with our previous two airlines that were unable to provide reliable air service due to poor management and a lack of qualified pilots said Rick Elliott – Chairman of the Airport Authority. We have a made a step in the right direction with Boutique Air said the Chairman. Mayor David Bradford stated that the new service will be beneficial to the entire community, and we plan to make everyone aware of the advantages of having this new service. The Mayor said after having had the opportunity to take a short flight in the new aircraft, I found it to be very comfortable and very quiet. You can actually have a conversation with your fellow passengers.
Boutique Air will operate a modern fleet of Pilatus PC-12 aircraft. The PC-12 is a Swedish made aircraft and has an excellent safety rating. All flights are flown by Captains with over 1200 hours of flight experience and an instrument rating. Pilatus aircraft are certified to fly with single pilots but Boutique Air opts to fly with a two member crew. The aircraft will have an 8 Passenger Executive Configuration or a 9 Passenger Commuter Configuration. It has a pressurized cabin, power outlets and an enclosed lavatory. Flight time from MSL to ATL is projected at 46 minutes and flight time between MSL and BNA is projected at 26 minutes. The pressurized cabin can fly at 25,000 feet allowing it to fly above most bad weather. Boutique Air has pilots that are highly experienced and hold the most advanced FAA ratings, a key reason for perfect safety record by the company.
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Boutique Air has been in operation since 2007. Boutique began flying fire surveillance missions for the U.S. Forestry Service and Bureau of Land Management. They later evolved to provide air charter services from the Burbank, Hawthorne, Las Vegas and Redding airports. In 2012, Boutique Air applied for commuter operating authority from the DOT and received authority to provide scheduled air carrier service in 2013.
Boutique Air has connections in place with all of the major Global Distribution Systems (GDSs), which travel agents use to access the market. You will find Boutique Air on Worldspan and Apollos (Travelport), Sabre and Amadeus reservation systems. In addition, they are on all major Online Travel Agencies (OTA), including Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, Orbitz, CheapTickets, and CheapOAir.
Boutiques provides Essential Air Service (EAS) in the following communities: Clovis (CVN), Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), Silver City (SVC), Albuquerque (ABQ), Carlsbad (CNM), Alliance (AIA), Denver (DEN), Chadron (CDR), Show Low (SOW), Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX), Merced (MCE), Los Angeles Int’l (LAX), Oakland Int’l (OAK), Las Vegas Int’l (LAS), Los Alamos (LAM), Greenville (GLH) and Nashville Int’l (BNA). More company information can found at https://www.boutiqueair.com/.
The PC-12 Pilatus aircraft is a very fuel efficient aircraft that has over a 1200 Nautical Mile Range. Passengers will experience luxurious travel accommodations normally reserved for private business executives who often use the same type of aircraft for their corporate travel arrangements. Some of the other proposals offered aircraft with twin engines such as Corporate Flight Management (CFM). CFM proposed using the Jetstream 31, a British Aerospace aircraft that is over 20 years and is configured to have 19 seats. Under the traditional EAS program, CFM will be required to reconfigure the aircraft to fly with only 9 seats. CFM was selected to provide EAS in Tupelo and will offer 30 round trip flights a week or 5 flights a day to Nashville only. The other airline proposals were from Air Choice One a Saint Louis based company and Sun Air dba Southern Airways a Memphis based company. Air Choice one offered three flights a day (2 to Nashville and 1 to Saint Louis) and Sun Air offered four flights a day (2 to Atlanta and 2 to Memphis).
Simpson said that during the 60 to 90 days the company will need to get ready for service, it must set the flight schedule and get pilots in place. It is very important that we use this time for marketing the airline and getting the word out to the community. You really need the startup time to let the communities know about the service and educate them of what we have to offer. We anticipate having some very low introductory fares to help generate interest in flying out of the Shoals once again. Our goal is to provide reliable, economical and safe travel options to the North Alabama region.
DOT officials have indicated that it is possible that the order for Boutique to start air service at Muscle Shoals may possibly go out in late December as they are aware that the communities are anxious to get the service started, but it might be delayed until mid-January. Airport officials are hopeful that the new air service can begin as early as February 1, 2016.
MEDIA RELEASE/NORTHWEST ALABAMA REGIONAL AIRPORT, Barry Griffith, A.A.E.