Keith Sisson, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Southern Airways, gave out round trip tickets to Dallas to three lucky winners at the Kiwanis Club meeting Wednesday.
Sisson helped lead the initial launch of the airline, where he played a role in everything from the marketing rollout, brand identity, scheduling, staffing and capital fundraising.
Southern Airways was founded in Dec. 2012, and by June 2013, they flew their first passengers.
In 2016, Southern Airways acquired Sun Air Express, a commuter airline, which grew their company 400 percent over night.
Currently the air service has 106 daily departures, with nine coming out of Arkansas. Their company’s first plane to fly out of Arkansas took off in June of this year. “In the last five months, the trend is straight up,” Sisson said. “We are so happy with the trends that we are setting here in El Dorado and we think in the next couple of months, we’re going to be at a level that has not been experienced with air service in this community.”
The service has three flights a day going to Dallas from El Dorado, with prices starting at $29 and topping out at $79.
They are currently working on a few initiative programs they hope to roll out soon. One is called the Campus Connect Program, which will offer Southern Arkansas University students, faculty and alumni discount codes for their travel. A similar program will be called Community Connector, which will benefit city and county government employees.
The other program is called Care Connection, which is still being tested, but will offer discounts to physicians in hospitals that have a traveling physicians program. They will fly in, do their rotation for four to five days and then fly out.
Sisson also discussed that he hears people who think the service is valuable if they are going to Dallas, but unbeneficial if they are flying to somewhere else, like Atlanta. Adding that it would be quicker to drive to Little Rock and make a direct flight to Atlanta.. “That is absolutely not true,” he said. “We did the math. There is no where that you can go, other than driving to Little Rock to go to Little Rock for the day, that makes it easier or quicker than going out of your hometown airports on one of our flights.”
The airport has no TSA lines so there is a short check in period. Flyers do not have to get to the airport hours before their flight, they can get there 20 minutes before, Sisson added.
After speaking, Sisson gave away three round trip tickets to competition winners, who were Kiwanis Club members Gerry Tomlinson, Esther Byrd and Gwenda Island.
Kaitlyn Rigdon can be reached at 870-862-6611 or krigdon@ eldoradonews.com.