Southeast Beach Express Cancels Air Service into Gulf Shores

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BATON ROUGE – Southeast Beach Express announced that it will cancel its nascent air service from Atlanta and Baton Rouge to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach before its first flight could leave the runway.

The seasonal air service was scheduled to begin its routes on June 3 between Atlanta Peachtree- Dekalb Airport (PDK) and Baton Rouge Metro Airport (BTR) into Gulf Shores Jack Edwards Airport (JKA).

“We certainly regret having to cancel the air service into Gulf Shores,” said Jay Taffet, the company’s founder, in a press release. “We still think it’s a terrific travel amenity for both beachgoers and Baldwin County residents looking for direct air service to Atlanta and Baton Rouge.”

Taffet said he encountered two unexpected hurdles: a shortage of beach lodging due to storm damage, and a national shortage of rental cars. Rental companies sold a portion of their fleets early in the pandemic and now a microchip shortage is making it harder for them to buy new vehicles.

“These 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,” said Taffet.

He said the company will begin refunding advanced seat bookings immediately.

“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 towards potentially creating a flight schedule from Atlanta and Baton Rouge next June,” says Rick Pawlak, senior vice president of Ultimate Air Shuttle, which was set to run the service.

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