Southeast Beach Express cancels plans for air service

By Melanie LeCroy / melanie@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 6/2/21

Just one month after announcing plans to provide air service to Jack Edwards National Airport in Gulf Shores, Southeast Beach Express has canceled flights.

The seasonal air service was scheduled …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Southeast Beach Express cancels plans for air service

Posted

Just one month after announcing plans to provide air service to Jack Edwards National Airport in Gulf Shores, Southeast Beach Express has canceled flights.

The seasonal air service was scheduled to begin its routes June 3, with flights Thursdays and Mondays from Atlanta Peachtree-Dekalb Airport and Baton Rouge Metro Airport into Gulf Shores Jack Edwards Airport.

“We certainly regret having to cancel air service into Gulf Shores. We still think it’s a terrific travel amenity for both beach-goers and Baldwin County residents looking for direct air service to Atlanta and Baton Rouge,” says Jay Taffet, founder of Southeast Beach Express. “Unfortunately, we encountered two major hurdles we didn’t anticipate when we began our planning for air service: A significant inventory of beach lodging unavailable for booking due to storm damage, and a national shortage of rental cars due to the pandemic. These two factors made it very difficult to induce drivers to fly, as car travel allows much more schedule flexibility and obviously built-in ground transportation at the destination.”

Ultimate Jetcharters, the operator of the flights, began refunding advanced seat bookings May 21.

“We wish we could have operated Southeast Beach Express into Gulf Shores this summer, but passenger demand and seat bookings were just not there to move forward with the air shuttle. We hope there’s opportunity for the air service next summer, and we’ll begin looking at the routes in the fall toward potentially creating a flight schedule from Atlanta and Baton Rouge next June,” says Rick Pawlak, Senior vice president of Ultimate Air Shuttle.

According to Taffet, they had about two dozen advanced seat reservations booked through June. He is hopeful that Southeast Beach Express will try again next summer if the lodging and rental car inventory rebound.