Friday, August 04, 2000

Lexington riders seethe as Delta cancels flights

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — Blue Grass Airport passengers are complaining that Delta Air Lines and two affiliates are canceling so many flights, they must use buses or taxis to get them between Lexington and Cincinnati.

        There is also criticism that their trips to and from Atlanta are being rescheduled or rerouted.

        The number of canceled flights has been unusually high all year, said Tom Tyra, the airport's manager of marketing and public relations. Mr. Tyra said Delta promised better service last summer after airport officials went to Atlanta for a meeting.

        But Delta, Atlantic Southeast Airlines and Comair have scrubbed between 14 and 34 flights during each of the past six months, Mr. Tyra said.

        “At an airport our size, that's a significant number of people being inconvenienced,” Mr. Tyra said, noting that the airport has a total of 40 flights each day.

        The airlines blame the high number of canceled flights on crew and aircraft shortages. Weather is sometimes an issue, as it often was in January and June.

        Mr. Tyra said airport officials began tracking the number of canceled flights early this year, so 1999 figures are not available.

        Officials also have started tracking the number of times customers are sent by bus or cab to or from Cincinnati, but they don't have firm numbers yet.

        Complaints from passengers have remained steady in the last three months, Mr. Tyra said.

        “We think Delta can do more to maintain their schedule,” said Mike Gobb, the airport's executive director. “It's the customers they are wanting to attract the most that they are ticking off the most.”

        Mr. Gobb said he thinks if there's an airplane or crew shortage in Cincinnati, the airlines decide it is easier to drive passengers to Lexington and use available crew and planes for flights to other parts of the country.

        Delta owns ASA and Comair and schedules flights for them.

        The three airlines carry 64 percent of the airport's passengers.


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