Independence Air to Shut Down on Thursday

Less than 19 months after Independence Air took to the skies, the low-cost carrier has announced that will shut down at 7 p.m. this Thursday.

"We are voluntarily discontinuing scheduled service," Kerry Skeen, Independence Air's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a written statement issued Monday.

The financially troubled airline filed for bankruptcy protection in November. Parent company FLYi Inc. warned last week that it would cease operating this Saturday if it was unable to find a major investor or buyer.

"There has not been a firm offer put forward that meets the financial criteria necessary to continue operations," Skeen said.

Airline officials are trying to contact customers with roundtrip reservations who are slated to return after Thursday night in an effort to arrange their return travel earlier.

The company is trying to get bankruptcy court approval for the automatic refund of fares for return flights that are not rescheduled, as well as flights booked for after Friday and beyond. There will be no refunds for vouchers or free tickets.

The airline was formerly known as Atlantic Coast Airlines, a regional carrier for United Express, when management decided to form a discount carrier. Following a year of planning, flights began on June 16, 2004, with great fanfare at its hub at Washington Dulles International Airport, about 30 miles west of Washington. A water cannon salute greeted the first outbound plane on what was then a schedule of 39 departures. The first flight to Atlanta was full.

Since then, Independence expanded, but in recent months was forced to drop several markets. Its 2,700 employees operate 200 daily flights to 37 destinations.

The airline competed against discount carriers JetBlue Airways Corp., AirTran Holdings Inc. and UAL Corp.'s Ted from its Dulles hub. It also faced major competition from Southwest Airlines Co. which flies out of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

On the Net:

Independence Air: http://www.flyi.com


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