Fleet Snafu Has AccessAir Scrambling

Scores of travelers departing from Los Angeles International Airport have had to scramble to change flight plans after low-cost air carrier AccessAir booked passengers on planes the company had on order but were not delivered in time. Travelers were forced to take other AccessAir flights or change carriers. AccessAir is trying appease the passengers by offering discounts and free tickets and by making up the difference on the higher fares charged by other carriers.

"We made a mistake," company Vice President Rich Musal said. "We never should have started taking reservations until we had the planes under our control." The company also quickly subleased a Boeing 727 to help with the backlog, with service starting Saturday.

The Des Moines-based carrier, launched in February, has two 737-200s taking passengers twice daily from New York to Los Angeles, with stops in two of four cities--Des Moines, Moline or Peoria in Illinois, or Colorado Springs in Colorado. Some round-trip fares are as low as $258.

AccessAir had planned to bump up its service to four flights a day by late June after it received two aircraft from San Francisco-based Pegasus Capital Corp. According to Musal, both planes, which had formerly been used by British Airways, were scheduled to be delivered by mid-June.

So far, only one plane, received June 17, has arrived. But AccessAir cannot use it until it has a flight data recorder that meets Federal Aviation Administration standards. The fourth plane is expected July 8, but Musal said it, too, may need improvements to pass FAA muster.

An executive at Pegasus Capital referred questions about the delivery snafu to AccessAir.

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