Air Transport World

Air Atlanta works toward strengthening its position. (with premium service at standard fares)

Air Atlanta works toward strengthening its position

It is tough to decide when writing about Air Atlanta whether to feature Mike Hollis or the airline itself. For Air Atlanta, the year-old premium-service carrier, is the dream-made-reality of Michael R. Hollis, its chairman and CEO.

Privately held--and most of it is held by Hollis--Air Atlanta declines to make public its traffic and revenue figures, except to acknowledge that it has yet to have a profitable month. A recent story in The Atlanta Constitution stated that the carrier lost $800,000 on revenues of $2.5 million in the month of October 1984. But things have improved since then, with load factors inching up toward breakeven, which is in the low-40% range. In March it was just about at that point.

Hollis is convinced--and makes a convincing case--that his airline will not go under, as did his premium-service contemporary, St. Louis-based Air 1. For one thing, Air Atlanta is the best-financed startup airline since deregulation, says Hollis. For another, he says, the airline is comfortable with its niche and aspires not to be much bigger but only better. And lastly, it shuns price-oriented advertising, although fares for its first-class style coach service are the same as its competitors' standard coach fares. So, thus far the new kid on the block has not aroused any fare-cutting reaction from its Atlanta competitors, Delta and Eastern. On the contrary, these two majors recently signed interline agreements with Air Atlanta, as have all other major carriers, providing the benefits of joint ticketing and baggage handling.

Pan Am connection

Flying from its hub at Hartsfield International Airport, the carrier goes nonstop to Memphis, Miami, New York-Kennedy and, since the end of April, LaGuardia. Its flights to Kennedy are billed as the Air Atlanta/ Pan-Am Express and link up at the JFK Worldport terminal with Pan Am's overseas destinations. The Express offers oneticket, one-checkin service, with seat assignments and boarding passes issued at any originating city through to final destination on both systems.

Numerous newspaper and magazine articles have been written about this fledgling airline. Most have stressed the fact that its founder is young and black, but that is beating a dead horse. The real story is how it got started, arranged its financing, found what Hollis considers a perfect niche, and how the airline is going about filling that niche.

Mike Hollis grew up in Atlanta, went off to Dartmouth College, where he graduated cum laude and was named a Senior Fellow, then took his law degree at the University of Virginia. …

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