MARATHON — Aztec Airways’ new passenger airline service between Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and Florida Keys Marathon International Airport will enable travelers to avoid parking fees, large crowds, long security lines, renting a car and driving three hours each way.

It’s also a welcome return of scheduled commercial service to the Middle Keys’ general aviation airport since the departure of Cape Air in 2009 and Delta in 2007.

“Why drive when you can fly?” said Aztec Airways spokeswoman Stacy Horachek. “It’s about a 35-minute flight.”

Roundtrip flights will be offered by Aztec Airways three times a week beginning Thursday, March 4, for $249 per passenger.

The company’s fleet of Piper Chieftain twin engine aircrafts cruise at 200 mph and accommodate eight human or pet passengers with luggage.

“Guests leave from our executive private VIP lounge with sofas and TVs right onto the tarmac and board the private plane,” Horachek said of the airline’s private terminal in Fort Lauderdale. “There’s no TSA, there’s no long lines and we offer free parking.”

“We launched scheduled service to Key West last October and feel that adding Marathon was a natural next step,” said Capt. Stuart Hanley, owner and COO of Aztec Airways. “To accommodate new routes, we recently acquired three additional Piper Chieftain aircraft, bringing our total number of passenger planes to six. We see a new demand for more local travel due to the current health crisis and believe we are positioned perfectly for those who would rather fly than drive to the Florida Keys.”

Aztec Airways has a staff of about 30 and specializes in cargo shipments throughout the region and private charters throughout Florida, neighboring states and the Bahamas. Scheduled flights currently serve Eleuthera, Abaco and Bimini islands in the Bahamas in addition to Key West and Marathon.

“We are very excited and pleased to see scheduled air service back at Marathon International Airport,” said Daniel Samess, CEO at the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce. “Between all the new resorts in the area, the vacation rental inventory and amenities the Middle Keys and Marathon offers, we feel this is a great time. This service can also serve our neighbors in Islamorada to the north and the Lower Keys as well. The Marathon Chamber and board members look forward to working with the great crew at Aztec Airways, as do our local lodging and attraction representatives. This service benefits us all.”

Aztec Airways aircrafts accommodate one 35-pound bag per person.

“Anything over is $2 additional per pound if allowable within the weight limit. If not, it will make it on the next available flight,” Horachek said. “We are pet friendly with additional costs. For pets under 25 pounds, it’s $50. Any dog more than 50 pounds is the cost of a seat since we take out a seat to allow for space.”

Reservations may be made as late as the day before the flight if space is available but Horachek advises passengers to book in advance to guarantee a seat.

Contact Aztec Airways for more information on scheduled flights to Eleuthera, Abaco, Bimini, Marathon and Key West at 954-601-3742 or email reservations@aztecairways.com.

For charter and cargo information, call 954-351-9313 or email charter@aztecairways.com. Visit aztecairways.com or find them on Facebook for more information.