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Flights to keep LAX buzzing

The West Coast will see an increase in flights by summer, as one airline expands and another starts flights to Hawaii from L.A.

Low-cost carrier Independence Air plans to add service to five West Coast cities, including LAX, from Dulles Airport in suburban Washington.

Flights will begin May 1 to L.A., with one-way introductory fares of $84 between LAX and Dulles. Tickets, information: (800) 359-3594, http://www.flyi.com

Sunship1 Airlines, a new carrier started by the parent company of Midwest-based Ryan International Airlines, plans to begin nonstop service from LAX to Hawaii on March 25.

The airline will offer four flights a week to Kauai, Maui, Honolulu and the Big Island, increasing by the end of June to seven days a week. Round-trip fares on its website for LAX-Honolulu flights ranged from $501 in late March to $351 in early May.

Fares may change. Tickets and information: (866) 359-7861, http://www.sunship1.com .

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An airline report card Major U.S. airlines logged more late flights and mishandled baggage and fielded more complaints last year than in 2003, according to a report released Feb. 3 by the Department of Transportation.

LAX, with nearly 82% of on-time arrivals, was fourth best among 31 airports in the statistics; Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, at 70%, was the worst.

Overall, the industry's numbers weren't bad compared with prior years. Although 78% of flights, for instance, arrived on time last year versus 82% in 2003, 2004's figure was still the fourth highest annual percentage in a decade. The number of complaints to airlines, up 25% over 2003, was the second fewest since 1996.

Airlines managed to turn in a fairly good performance despite growing air traffic. They flew nearly 10% more flights in 2004 than in the previous year and nearly a fifth more than in 2001.

— Times staff

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New idea afloat: boat swapping Now boat owners vacationing in foreign waters can swap boats on http://www.boatswop.com , a website launched early last month. The site is the brainchild of British sailing enthusiasts Andy Holliday, Crispin Ellison and Ilana Richardson.

Owners can register their vessels and search for other boat owners in their own countries or other parts of the world. Swapping boats saves the cost of chartering a boat far from home, and owners can also advise one another on the best local harbors and marinas as well as share concerns about local conditions and hazards.

Nonmembers can search the website to see where boats included in the service are moored, but only members can get details and make contact with other owners.

So far members are primarily from Britain, and no swaps have been arranged yet, Holliday said. Membership is free for the first 200 people to register their boats; afterward, it is $92, with an annual subscription fee of $92.

— Associated Press

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