RICH INTERNATIONAL Airways has been re-awarded its air-carrier certificate from the US Federal Aviation Administration, but the carrier still awaits authorisation from the US Department of Transportation (DoT) to restart charter flights.

The Miami-based operator was grounded by the FAA in September 1996 after a safety audit uncovered alleged deficiencies in training and maintenance standards. The carrier filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection two months later.

Rich maintains that it has responded to all FAA safety concerns, but still must satisfy DoT on financial resources and other matters, says airline president William Meenan. He says that the FAA suspension mostly involved "record-keeping matters".

Operations will resume "at the earliest opportunity", but Rich will be "smaller", he says. Before being grounded, the US carrier had operated five McDonnell Douglas DC-8s and 16 leased Lockheed L-1011 TriStars. The airline still owns a handful of DC-8s, but the L-1011s have now been returned to International Air Leases.

The DoT has denied Miami-based cargo carrier Millon Air's request to resume operations via wet-leases of aircraft. Millon voluntarily suspended operations in October 1996 after one of its Boeing 707s crashed in Ecuador, and the FAA suspended its operating permit, pending an inspection of its records.

Source: Flight International