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Mexico Suspends Regional Airline

Aerocalifornia failed safety inspections, officials say. Hundreds are stranded at LAX.

April 03, 2006|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities said Sunday they had halted flights by regional airline Aerocalifornia because of safety concerns after inspections showed serious deficiencies.

The transport ministry said Aerocalifornia operations were suspended after inspections showed it had failed to make improvements ordered under a review 15 months ago.

The private, low-cost airline, based in La Paz, Baja California Sur, operates flights between several Mexican cities and Los Angeles International and Tucson International airports.

Paul Haney, a spokesman for LAX, said the company runs about 50 departures a week to Mazatlan, Guadalajara and Durango and other cities.

The unexpected grounding left several hundred passengers stranded at LAX.

"I've never seen anything like it," said an exasperated Brian d'Autremont, 49, a passenger on a jet bound for Cabo San Lucas that got as far as the taxiway before returning to the terminal without explanation.

After the first inspection the airline had grounded a third of its fleet and was "cannibalizing" parts from those planes to keep the rest operating, the transport ministry said. It provided no further details on safety problems.

Airline officials could not be reached for comment.

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