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Hooters Launched An Airline That Went Bust After Three Years

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Hooters Launched An Airline That Went Bust After Three Years

You may or may not remember that Hooters - which is better known for its scantily clad waitresses than its food - launched an air service back in 2003.

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Looking like America's answer to Ryanair, Hooters Air promised low prices on all of its journeys - not to mention at least two Hooters women to serve passengers on every flight.

While it started off well, the airline soon went downhill and in three years it became a $40 million (£28.65m) failure.

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So what happened? Business Insider spoke to a few cabin crew members as well as a pilot and an industry expert to find out what it was like working for Hooters Air and why it flopped.

The airline - created by the 'breastaurant' of the food industry - started off as a success, offering low price domestic flights to 15 destinations in the US, including LA and Denver, with a flat rate of $129 (£92) each way.

Credit: Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images
Credit: Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images

A former Hooters pilot told the publication: "There was a lot of intrigue about this airline, not because of what was happening on the inside, but more so what people perceived from the outside."

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While every flight featured two Hooters Girls, three certified flight attendants were also on board to serve food and drinks and operate any machinery.

The Hooters girls were there to essentially entertain the passengers while wearing the signature orange shorts and branded tank tops.

The attire for the official cabin crew members looked rather different, explained former Hooters Air flight attendant Sara Nitz.

"I had a navy blue dress with like, a little orange scarf," she said. "Very professional. It had the little owl embroidered on it."

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Another of the former attendants, Kimberly Cerimele, added: "We had two Hooters Girls from different restaurants from the area that would do the trivia on the plane, but they had no training whatsoever.

"They were just there just for passenger fun."

The airline did well for the economies of its smaller US locations, as well as where it was headquartered in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Brad Dean, the CEO of the Myrtle Beach chamber of commerce, explained: "In its heyday, Hooters Air was bringing between 3,000 and 5,000 a week into the Myrtle Beach area."

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Despite its success, Hooters Air shutdown in 2006 with a whopping $40 million loss. Airline industry analyst Henry Harteveldt spoke to Business Insider as to why this happened: "They started the airline as the airline industry was recovering from the 9/11 attacks. People were scared of getting on airplanes.

"There was growing low-fare competition in the market as Southwest and other airlines in the market had begun to expand."

Plus, fuel prices were skyrocketing, added Harteveldt: "So it just wasn't an economically viable business."

Nonetheless, Dean concluded by saying there are still people who work in and visit the Myrtle Beach area that might never have had the opportunity to do so if it weren't for the business, to which they remain 'grateful' for the investment.

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Plus, airline aside, Hooters remains a profitable restaurant chain in America.

Words by Daisy Phillipson

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Restaurant, Hooters, US News, travel, airline, US

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