Resorts Airline Pins Hopes to Its Baja Service

Times Staff Writer

Flying from Orange County to Baja California can be less than convenient since Aeromexico discontinued its service, but a Costa Mesa commuter airline has stepped in, hoping to fill the gap.

Resorts Airline, known as Trans World Express until last week, earlier this month started flying several days a week from Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, La Paz and Loreto in Baja California, Mexico.

Bankrupt Aeromexico grounded most of its planes last month, and PSA stopped flying to Baja when it merged earlier this year with USAir. Mexicana is the only commercial airline serving the area, and it does not fly to Loreto.


“Resorts’ service is wonderful news. For a while to get to Loreto, your choice was flying to La Paz and taking a five-hour bus ride, or not going,” said Nat Defiebre, owner of Baja Safaris, a tour operator in Monterey.

Jim Slemons, owner and chairman of Resorts, said he hopes the flights to Mexico will turn financial fortunes around for his 4-year-old airline, which he said lost $1.9 million last year.

Slemons and TWA terminated their affiliation last week because Trans World Express was losing money on its commuter service for TWA.

Trans World Express ferried passengers between Orange County’s John Wayne Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. While the planes stayed relatively full taking Orange County residents to Los Angeles, few passengers in Los Angeles took the service back to Orange County.

Resorts Airline has eliminated the service between airports but continues TWE’s routes to several U.S. cities, including Santa Barbara and Oxnard.

Slemons said he is negotiating with Pan Am to provide commuter service for the large airline. If the two companies join up, Slemons’ airline would take advantage of Pan Am’s reservations and ticketing systems and connections at other airports, which TWA also provided. Resorts would then change its name to Pan Am Express.

Slemons, who also owns several auto dealerships in Orange County, said that making Resorts profitable has become his full-time job.