Airlines Remembered

Southern Air (2)

Photos © R.Leeuw


Ceased operations: Jan. 2003 (Chapter 11, restarted 2003)
Homebase: Columbus-Rickenbacker, OH
Founded: 1999
ICAO callsign: ?
Flightnbr prefix: 9S
Operations: cargo


N742SA is seen here in its natural habitat, the cargo ramp at Amsterdam IAP, on May 26th 2001.

During January 2003 news reached me that all Southern's 747s had been stored and unable to resume operations as some engines had been removed by parties with a financial interest; apparently bills hadn't been paid and Southern had filed for Chapter 11.
GECAS refused comment and Southern I could not reach on the phone. I found no reference on the internet to Southern ceasing operations.
The events are quite sad as Southern Air Transport ceased operations before: on 25Sep98, after having been founded in 1947 (it was then based in Miami,FL). But Southern Air Inc. had no connection to Southern Air Transport, other than it was started by some ex-SAT managers (as someone said: " whose lack of imagination prevented them from coming up with an original name").

N742SABoeing 747-230B(SF)22669 / 549lsf GECA / cvtd -230B (M)
N743SABoeing 747-230B(SF)22671 / 574lsf GECA / cvtd -230B (M)
N744SABoeing 747-230B(SF)22363 / 490lsf GECA / cvtd -230B (M)
N745SABoeing 747-2F6BF22382 / 498lsf GECA / cvtd -2F6B


N743SA is seen here in January 2001 at Amsterdam IAP, being refuelled for another cargo hauling flight.

During April 2003 Southern was busy getting out of Chapter 11 of the US bankruptcy protection; Southern had recently acquiered a 747-200 (with nose-loading capacity) and the PH-BUI (a Boeing 747-206B (SF/SUD) cn21111/276) had been bought from KLM.
The PH-BUI handover was planned on 17Apr2003 at Amsterdam IAP and a D-check by KLM was planned immediately afterwards (roll-out of the aircraft in Southern colors would be around the end of May. The new registration would be N746SA). The deal was cancelled while the PH-BUI was sitting in front of the hangar at Amsterdam IAP to enter the D-check.
Whether Southern will be able to restart operations again, remains to be seen.

Emotions run high, as can be read by a quote from a former Southern Air Transport employee, who responded to my website:

"I don't know who is behind the new Southern Air, but Tom Gillies is the president, and he was president of SAT when it got driven into the ground. The bankruptcy court has recently ruled that monies recovered from the Bastian family who owned SAT and tried to steal several million dollars with bogus Nevada corporations, will be paid out to the employees who got screwed out of vacation and sick pay when SAT went under.
SAT's management was responsible for the bankruptcy, and Bastian's dealings with his companies were found to have been illegal. Bastian died shortly after SAT died."
The sender did not want his name mentioned as the CIA was involved in Southern Air Transport (probably not with Southern Air Inc, or it would have survived longer).

In response to this I received an email in May 2006:
"I started out as an aircraft dispatcher with the company and later as the senior buyer from Apr94 until Jul98. From what I saw, the decline of the company actually started before Tom Giles took over as president and probably started while the company was still in Miami.
Tom Giles was only president for about 8 to 10 months prior to chapter 7 or 11 (not sure which chapter it was). The company was financially in trouble for several years while Bill Langton was president. During SAT's three years in Columbus, they had their SVP of Maintenance, CFO, and several departmental directors let go or quit do to reasons unknown to me. Plus, several of their key personnel declined to relocate from Miami to Columbus. There was an appearance of some wrong doing within the organization while I was there and the internal auditor vigorously pursued issues that were brought to his attention. Tom Giles started out in SAT's operations back in the 1980's, worked his way up to VP of operations, and eventually to president of the company.
In my opinion, Tom Giles probably had little to do about the financial wrong doings that were mentioned and should be taken out of your web site. I highly doubt he had any or no control over what companies the Bastion family sold (Simuflight) or bought and he probably created Southern Air out of his passion for the company and aviation. "
Richard Albrecht

Southern Air restarted operations with Boeing 747-206B(SF)(SCD) N746SA (former PH-BUI of KLM Cargo) and was first reported at Dusseldorf,Germany (on a Lufthansa freight charter) on 07Dec03. By 2004 Southern Air's website (www.southernair.com) claimed to "operate a low cost cargo airline with 4 Boeing 747-200 freighters".

Fleet info: JP Airline Fleets 2001 and 2002


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