A proposed US start-up aims to launch low-fare services from under-used MidAmerica Airport near St Louis, Missouri, by June.

New York-based holding company Air Florida is working to attract investors to an ambitious scheme that calls for the acquisition of a Part 121 airline operating certificate as well as an initial fleet of three Boeing MD-80s and one widebody aircraft.

Air Florida president Joseph Luchetti says the airline is "in the midst of negotiating the purchase of an existing air carrier" and is in discussions to acquire the three MD-80s for proposed scheduled passenger services and either a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 or a Boeing 767 convertible for charters and cargo operations.

He says the company plans to launch services from Mid America to Chicago Midway and several other US gateways, but will fly under a different, as yet undisclosed, name.

Air Florida has already garnered support from the St Clair County Board in St Louis, which recently approved a proposed $150 million industrial revenue bond plan aimed at luring private investment in the start-up.

Board chairman John Baricevic cautions that Air Florida still requires approval from county officials for final issuance of the bonds and that Air Florida, not St Clair County, will be liable if the venture fails.

Says Luchetti: "We are not looking to be a Delta or United. We want to be a nice mid-sized operation, with at some point a fleet of 30 to 35 aircraft."

Air Florida's entrance at Mascoutah, Illinois-based MidAmerica would be a boon for the struggling airport, which has not offered scheduled flights since Pan American Airways dropped service at the facility late last year.

Source: Flight International