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One of Boutique’s Pilatus PC-12’s in Muscle Shoals, Alabama (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

Interview: Boutique Adds First Florida Destination

Boutique Air is continuing to push forward with its expansion plans of recent months, most recently announcing the small carrier would begin operating to Pensacola, Fla. Flights to Pensacola will operate out of the city of Muscle Shoals, Ala., one of the many Essential Air Service (EAS) cities the airline operates out of in the region.

This will be the first time ever that the San Francisco-based carrier will serve the state of Florida. Beginning this new destination will not only give the airline access to the Florida panhandle but also to southern Alabama. Pensacola is located only 11 miles from the Florida-Alabama border roughly 53 miles to Mobile, Ala.

This means the carrier will effectively be connecting northern Alabama with the southern part of the state by air, something no other commercial airline is currently doing.

According to the airline’s website, the flights should take 1-hour and 20-minutes.

Boutique Air’s Southeastern route network (Photo: Boutique Air)

AirlineGeeks spoke with Boutique Air Vice President of Business Operations Brian Konrad about the new service to the Sunshine State.

Airline Geeks (AG): When will your flights to Pensacola begin?

Brian Kondrad (BK): Flights will begin on December 15, 2020

(AG): What aircraft will fly the new route to Florida?

(BK): We will be using the Pilatus PC-12.

The interior of Boutique Air’s Pilatus PC-12 aircraft (Photo: Boutique Air)

(AG): How often will the route be flown?

(BK): We are starting out with two round-trips a day, seven days a week.

(AG): Will this new route to Pensacola be part of your EAS contract at Muscle Shoals, or will it be a high risk [non-EAS] route?

(BK): It will be an EAS service.

(AG): Will this affect any of the current services out of Muscle Shoals to Nashville and Atlanta?

(BK): We will continue our Nashville service at risk [without EAS subsidy] as it remains a popular destination.

(AG): Will passengers be able to connect to your airline partners, American and United, in Nashville and Atlanta?

(BK): Yes, ticket and baggage transfers with our codeshare and interline connecting partners will most definitely remain active.

(AG): Will passengers be able to book connecting flights from Atlanta to Pensacola on Boutique Air?

(BK): Yes, since our aircraft will be arriving from Atlanta into Muscle Shoals before our Pensacola departure, passengers have the ability to buy the combination itinerary.

(AG): Will passengers from Nashville also be able to do the same?

(BK): Yes, Nashville passengers will also be able to connect in Muscle Shoals to Pensacola

The airport logo on the terminal in Muscle Shoals, sometimes referred to as ‘The Shoals” by locals (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

(AG): On some days this will give Muscle Shoals up to six daily departures to a mixture of three destinations. Will the new flights to Pensacola make Muscle Shoals the largest Boutique station by the number of daily departures?

(BK): Currently Denver still holds the most departures a day.

(AG): Where will Boutique operate out of at the Pensacola Airport?

(BK): We will be operating out of the main terminal at Pensacola.

(AG): What made Boutique decide to add a third destination from a small community like Muscle Shoals, especially after re-adding service to Nashville back in August of 2020?

(BK): Due to increased demand of new destinations to the area. Many northwest Alabama residents have family and businesses in the Pensacola area that includes Mobile and other southern Alabama communities.

The flight schedule for the Muscle Shoals to Pensacola service (Photo: Boutique Air)

Kondrad also mentioned that passengers can fly from Atlanta or Nashville to Pensacola with a connection in Muscle Shoals. For passengers going from Delta’s powerhouse hub in Atlanta to the Florida panhandle, Boutique is actually the cheaper option, although it would take longer.

Doing a dummy booking for Dec. 29 from Atlanta to Pensacola, Boutique’s fare is about $36 cheaper than Delta’s cheapest option. However, Delta’s flight is a non-stop 1-hour, 8-minute flight, and the Boutique option is a nearly 3-hour journey including a 30-minute connection in Muscle Shoals.

Flying from Atlanta to Pensacola (Photo: top — Boutique; bottom — Delta)

Joey Gerardi
Joey Gerardi
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