Small airline to start BWI-Africa service

BUSINESS DIGEST

April 12, 2006|By MEREDITH COHN | MEREDITH COHN,SUN REPORTER

A small New York-based airline that typically flies only chartered flights will launch a once-a-week flight to West Africa from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport beginning June 4, the airline and airport said yesterday.

North American Airlines, founded in 1989, has flown military and other charters from BWI. The airline was bought recently by World Air Holdings Inc., an Atlanta company that also operates air charters.

North American will be the first carrier to offer service to West Africa from the airport since Air Ghana was grounded in 2004.

The airline will become the eighth overseas carrier to operate from the airport's international terminal. Although the terminal opened in 1997, it has had trouble luring and keeping service in the shadow of Washington Dulles International Airport, the region's main gateway for overseas flights.

"There used to be service to Ghana," said Steve Forsyth, an airline spokesman. "We know from marketing there is a huge demand in the general metro area."

The airline is one of the few U.S. carriers that offers or plans to offer direct service to West Africa. Forsyth said the carrier purchased an additional Boeing 767, seating about 250, to accommodate the flight that will land in Banjul, The Gambia and continue on to Accra, Ghana. It will add flights if demand grows, he said.

The flight will arrive from Banjul at 8:45 p.m. and depart from BWI at 11:55 p.m. on Sundays, the airport said.

"Our staff here at BWI Marshall have been working with North American Airlines for months to bring this carrier to the airport," said Timothy L. Campbell, executive director of the Maryland Aviation Administration, which oversees the airport.

meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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