Originally created 03/14/97

Airline reduces flights



COLUMBIA - Air South officials know they could be alienating customers while the airline has had to cancel dozens of flights the past two weeks and taken three of its seven planes out of service for maintenance.

The moves affect about 11,000 passengers, many who may leave the airline annoyed, Air South marketing vice president Tom Volz said. "They get mad and I can't blame them."

"We try to selectively reduce routes through our entire system," said John Affeltranger, chief operations officer.

Only four of Air South's seven planes are flying.

Workers are replacing engine disks, which hold fan blades, in the Boeing 737. And a manufacturing shortage has kept the plane out of service longer than planned. It won't be back until May, Mr. Affeltranger said.

The other two planes should be flying again within two weeks.

If Air South doesn't get one of the aircraft out of the shop by Saturday, it will use a Kiwi Airlines plane and crew for the weekend.

The Columbia-based discount carrier tries to notify people who buy tickets in advance, but that's not always possible when passengers are trying to board planes for return flights, Mr. Volz said.

The maintenance has affected about 15 percent of the airline's passengers since Feb. 28. Many of them took later Air South flights.

The carrier also gives refunds on request and has been "pretty generous with travel vouchers" for future flights, Mr. Volz said Wednesday. "It's very difficult to measure what you lose," he said.

Passengers on the most popular flights are less likely to get bumped. Air South also considers whether it or another airline has a later flight to the same destination.