News, Tips & Bargains : USAfrica Airways Ceases Flights

USAfrica Airways, the first regularly scheduled U.S. airline flying to South Africa, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after suspending operations earlier this month.

The airline, which only 3 1/2 weeks ago announced a frequent-flyer partnership with United Airlines as well as new service to Dakar, Senegal, that was supposed to start March 1, suspended flights Feb. 3 because of a shortage of funds. The carrier filed for Chapter 11 protection Feb. 8.

Gregory S. Lewis, president and chief executive officer of USAfrica, said the airline is committed to reorganizing and resuming operations as soon as possible, but said there was no date for the resumption of service.

An airline spokesman said the financial crisis was precipitated when short-term financing fell through and American Airlines, which leased two planes to the fledgling airline, pulled the planes back.

Two airlines, South African Airways and British Airways, have offered to help passengers stranded by USAfrica's shutdown by waiving some travel restrictions and reducing fares.

USAfrica, which began service June 3, operated five flights weekly from Washington-Dulles International Airport to Johannesburg (a 17-hour trip) and one to Cape Town. It had been planning to add service to Harare, Zimbabwe, within a few months.

Water-Logged at Waterloo

The 130-foot mound at Waterloo--site of Napoleon's famous last stand--is being shored up for June 17-18 festivities marking the 180th anniversary of the battle that pitted the general's 125,000 soldiers against 630,000 from Prussia, England, the Netherlands, Austria and Russia.

Belgian officials said the grass-covered Butte de Lion (Lion's Mound) that marks the Waterloo battlefield outside Brussels is sagging because of heavy rains. The government plans to shore it up by inserting long steel-and-concrete rods into the earthen mound and giving it a new grass cover, according to the Associated Press.

The battlefield mound is topped with a fierce-looking lion that glares toward France, 50 miles to the south. It was erected in 1824 on orders of King William I of the Netherlands.

All's in Flower in Philadelphia

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Philadelphia Flower Show--called the largest indoor show in the world by its organizers--opens its fragrant doors March 5 at the Philadelphia Civic Center. Before it closes them on March 12, roughly 230,000 visitors are expected to walk through its six acres of exhibits and displays, taking in the more than 1,700 entries.

Some of the landscapes being prepared include a Shakespeare garden with fragrant herbs, grounds fit for a Roman emperor and a futuristic garden. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Sundays. General admission is $12.50.

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