BWI-Ocean City Flights May Restart

A Massachusetts-based airline said yesterday that it is in talks with a local businessman to operate flights to Ocean City from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The flights would be BWI's only scheduled service to the resort town.

Cape Air, a private, 16-year-old airline that flies nine-seat Cessna 402s in small markets in New England, Florida, the Caribbean and Micronesia, said it may partner with Wayne Simmons, who briefly operated flights last fall to Ocean City Municipal Airport on his namesake Simmons Air.

Simmons said interest was high on the flights that cost $45 one way. But he discovered his last partner was not properly licensed for the airline's size. BWI confirmed Simmons Air flew, but couldn't say how often.

"In so many ways, Baltimore to Ocean City fits our niche," said Michelle Haynes, a Cape Air spokeswoman.

"The destinations are places that are geographically challenged and have a healthy vacation component to them. At this point in time, there is no signed contract, but we're looking at it very seriously," Haynes said.

Simmons and Cape Air would not discuss financial details, saying only that if there is a partnership, Cape Air would likely provide the planes, pilots and maintenance and Simmons would provide the airline name, marketing and ground work.

Haynes said Cape Air has been interested in Baltimore for some time. She said the 700-employee airline has survived and grown by owning its planes and moving them to where the need is seasonally: New England in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter. The airline carried a half-million people last year.

Simmons said he lost more than $1 million on flights he did provide from Baltimore last year, which he said were about 60 percent full, because he had to charter airplanes after his last airline partnership fell apart.

If Cape Air signs on, Simmons says flights are likely to cost $99 one-way and begin Feb. 14. Flights to Atlantic City also may be added soon, although Cape Air would not confirm that.

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