Just 10 months ago it appeared that Southern Airways Express was establishing itself as a convenient, readily available option in the commuter airline market on Nantucket when they announced 26 weekly flights between Hyannis and the island. It was an expansion to their services that were already being provided to places such as Norwood, Boston, New Bedford, and Providence, RI, and there was hope that Southern could step up as Cape Air pulled back.
But this week the airport learned that they would be losing one of their top commuter airlines ahead of the 2023 summer season when Southern Airways Express representatives informed airport manager Noah Karberg that they would not be returning this summer.
“We received notice from them this year that they are tending to what sounds to me like their central air service commitments and routes in Hawaii,” Karberg said. “I wanted to thank them for their service, and we hope to see them back.”
Following a drastic reduction in flights between Nantucket and Hyannis by Cape Air last year, Southern Airways announced the addition of the 26 weekly flights between the two locations that would begin in June of 2022. One-way fares began at $99.
Aside from Hyannis, the airline also flew to several other locations that deviated from the normal stops at Logan Airport in Boston and Cape Cod Gateway Airport in Hyannis that have been offered for years, providing passengers with an expanded set of options.
Southern Airway Express chief commercial officer Mark Cestari told the Current Thursday morning that the airline's rapid growth and success in 2022 was one of the factors that led to this decision. Southern has added 10 new cities to their network and new connecting hubs at Phoenix, Atlanta, St. Louis and Chicago-O’Hare.
"We are focusing our resources on developing those destinations in 2023," Cestari said. "We value our loyal customers throughout New England and appreciate the support we have received from Nantucket Memorial Airport since the launch of our service here in 2019. It is our hope to return to Nantucket at some point in the future.”
Cestari not ruling out a possible return to the island should come as no surprise after his comments last year. He told the Current that the high demand for their services prompted the decision to add the 26 weekly flights between Nantucket and Hyannis.
“Countless businesses and individuals have reached out to us in the last week asking for the increased service,” Cestari said last May. “We are fortunate that we have the ability to immediately serve the community.”
Southern Airways was founded in Memphis in 2013 and serves over 40 cities. They began service on Nantucket in 2019 with three seasonal services to Nantucket from other airports across New England including Norwood Memorial Airport, Tweed New Haven Regional Airport, and T.F. Green International Airport in Rhode Island. In August of 2020 they began providing a New Bedford – Nantucket service with fares as low as $59.