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Published: Friday, 4/24/2009

Toledo flights to NYC area stalled

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo's new air service to metropolitan New York, scheduled to start June 1, has been pushed back to July 1 and will be operated by a different airline, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority announced yesterday.

Just what airline it will be won't be made public until May 4. In any case, those who bought tickets for the three-times-weekly Air Azul flights must rebook, no matter when they planned to travel.

A letter that Sun America, from which the start-up Air Azul was to have chartered aircraft for the flights between Toledo Express Airport and Newark (N.J.) Liberty International Airport, sent Wednesday to Air Azul customers advised them that Sun Country was "no longer associated with the name Air Azul" and that all Air Azul flights had been canceled.

The letter, redistributed yesterday by the port authority, also advised that any credit cards used to buy Air Azul tickets had not been charged, and all customer credit card information had been purged from the reservations system.

"We know that this may come as an inconvenience to you and your travel plans," the Sun America letter said. It then encouraged travelers to rebook on or after May 4, when a new carrier to operate the flights will be announced and promotional fares as low as $9, plus taxes and fees, will become available.

Carla Firestone, a port authority spokesman, said the delay in starting up the Newark service, for which her agency obtained a $400,000 federal grant to guarantee revenue, was unfortunate but that it was expected to result in a stronger airline operating the route.

Holders of Air Azul reservations are to be contacted both by phone and letter, Ms. Firestone said. The number of passengers affected is believed to be minimal, she said.

"People are booking 35 to 40 days out right now," so most who might have planned to travel on the new route probably hadn't bought tickets yet.



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