Originally created 03/05/02

Airline resumes Augusta flights



By Monday morning, Bill Kemple had made it back to Augusta a day late and $100 short.

After waiting three hours for his luggage Sunday night in the Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, Mr. Kemple decided to pay for a hotel room and rent a car to drive home Monday morning. His bags had already been bused back.

"It's bad (public relations) all the way around," he said. "The problem is that they didn't let us know what was going on."

Mr. Kemple was among hundreds of passengers stranded when flights on Atlantic Southeast Airlines were canceled Sunday afternoon after a weather observation device malfunctioned at Augusta Regional Airport.

Workers fixed the equipment by 11:15 a.m. Monday, and the airline was back on schedule by noon.

By then, 15 flights had been canceled Sunday and Monday between Augusta and Atlanta.

US Airways Express flights between Augusta and Charlotte were not affected by the mechanical problems because that airline allows its planes to fly without the observation system in place, said Kathryn Solee, spokeswoman for Augusta Regional.

"We do apologize for the inconvenience that was caused by the cancellations, and we're pleased our full operation is back to normal," ASA spokesman Kent Landers said. "Our operation specifications don't allow us to operate without the piece of weather equipment that malfunctioned in Augusta."

The automated National Weather Service device, which measures temperature and dew point, shut down because of problems with its power source, Ms. Solee said.

ASA bused affected passengers from Augusta to Atlanta on Monday morning, Ms. Solee said. She said bus problems on the Atlanta side, however, stopped passengers from getting a direct ride to Augusta. Some had to fly to Columbia, where they took buses to Augusta.

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 823-3227 or vicky.eckenrode@augustachronicle.com.