UPDATE - New Airline Offering Passenger Service Out of PDK

posted Aug 25, 2013, 6:11 AM by DECA Atlanta   [ updated Sep 11, 2014, 9:34 AM ]
On Friday I met with Mike Van Wie, the Airport Director at PDK, to learn more about the recent announcement that Southern Airways Express, a small air transportation company, will be adding PDK to its list of arrival/departure locations. At this meeting I learned that neither DeKalb County nor PDK solicited, nor do they support this air service operating at the airport.  Because Southern Airlines is licensed through and controlled by the FAA, however, PDK’s Director has no authority to prohibit them from using PDK. All license/certificates required by DeKalb to operate the airport are issued by the FAA and require the airport to be non-discriminatory with respect to allowing access to all federally licensed operators. Southern Airways is a "public on demand charter carrier" licensed under FAA regulations and is not providing true commercial airline service like Delta or other regular passenger airlines operating out of Hartsfield-Jackson airport. These large commercial operations will never occur at PDK since the airport is not certified by the FAA to allow such operations and severe space limitations will not allow the runway to grow to accommodate such traffic.

As a public on demand charter carrier, Southern Airways essentially provides their aircraft to a sister company that is a Part 380 Public Charter Operator who 'books' the charter flights based on an advertised schedule. This is noted on Southern Airways homepage, http://www.iflysouthern.com , just below their special offers: “Southern Airways Express flights are public charters, sold under 14 CFR Part 380, and operated by Southern Airways Charter as direct air carrier. These charter flights are subject to Department of Transportation Public Charter Regulations.”

The FAA requires Southern Airways adhere to the following limitations to their service:

  • Southern’s planes are limited to prop or turbo-prop (no jets) with a maximum 9 passengers seats and a maximum payload of 7,500 lbs. Southern will be using a Cessna Caravan which is a nine passenger single engine turbo-prop plane with a maximum weight of 8,900 lbs - less that 15% of the 75,000 lbs maximum plane weight allowed at PDK.
  • Southern is limited to a maximum of 4 round trip flights per week to any destination.  

At Friday’s meeting we also talked about the long term viability of the airline, as the operating costs for the aircraft are 50% to 100% more than the potential revenue available from the limited seats per flight. We can only hope that this will be a short lived venture that will soon follow the same path to self-destruction as many prior "designer" airlines. The PDK Director is meeting with several DeKalb County Commissioners soon to discuss this issue.  After that meeting, he would like to schedule a public meeting in our area to present additional information on this matter and allow residents an opportunity to get their questions answered.  

I will let you know more details about the public meeting regarding this issue, when they become available.  In the mean time, for more information about Southern Airways, I encourage you to visit the FAQ section of their website at http://iflysouthern.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=pubDsp.viewFAQ 


Jordan M. Fox
DECA President & PR Chair