DALLAS – Today in Aviation, US charter airline Hooters Air (Y5) ceased operations in 2006 after three years of operations.
The airline could trace its history back to 2002, when Hooters restaurant owner Robert Brooks looked into establishing an airline to grow the Hooters brand.
Brooks initially approached the struggling Vanguard Airlines, but the owners refused to sell. Brookes then turned his attention to Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based charter carrier Pace Airlines.
With its headquarters in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Hooters initially provided domestic charter services for golfers. When it ceased operations, the carrier was serving 15 destinations, including Las Vegas (LAS) and Denver (DEN).
The airline operated a small fleet, which included two Boeing 737-200s, four 737-300s, and a single 757.
Onboard passengers were offered a generous 34-inch seat pitch with business-class style seating. On flights over one hour, complimentary meals were also provided.
Two Hooters Girls, recruited from the restaurant chain, were on hand to assist the three Flight Attendants with greeting passengers and hospitality duties.
In 2005, the airline announced it would end its Rockford (RFD) to Denver (DEN) service. This followed the arrival of United Airlines (UA) on the route, with which it could not compete.
In early 2006, the airline ceased all of its scheduled services. Charter flights continued until April, when the airline canceled all remaining flights and refunded passengers’ tickets.
Hooter’s Air demise was blamed on increasing fuel costs following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Rising competition from rapidly expanding low-cost airlines also put pressure on the small airline. It was estimated that the venture cost the Hooters brand US$40m.
Featured image: The airline was also used to increase brand awareness for Hooters, with its aircraft seen as a “flying billboard” for the brand. Photo: EMcCutchan, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons