Hooters Air Dropping Almost All Service

Hooters Air, which featured scantily clad women in orange shorts and tight T-shirts on flights, will stop flying next month except for private charters out of Winston-Salem, N.C.

Bob Brooks, the airline's founder, and president Mark Peterson said Hooters Air told The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News for a story Wednesday that the company will focus on charters for large groups such as sports teams and tour groups.

Hooters Air has been suspending and canceling flights since the Christmas holidays. Airline industry analysts have said problems for the Myrtle Beach-based airline range from a highly competitive low-fare airline industry to rising fuel prices.

For Myrtle Beach, the airline's closing means a loss of only about five jobs, but more importantly a loss of about 1,000 visitors a week that flew in on Hooters Air.

"There is no good news to reduction of air service, particularly direct flights," said Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. "In the case of Hooters, there's a double whammy. Fewer flights mean fewer people coming to the destination."

Brooks — chairman of the international restaurant chain known for its chicken wings and its scantily clad female servers — bought Pace Airlines in 2002 and launched its first scheduled flights from Myrtle Beach to Atlanta on March 6, 2003.

As late as July, the airline served 15 destinations, including nonstop flights to Nassau, Bahamas.