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Wednesday, March 22, 2000

New airline
may take off
in Honolulu

The proposed carrier would
service the San Diego and
Portland markets

By Russ Lynch


An Oregon partnership is seeking to start a new airline and says it expects to have two widebody DC-10-30 jets serving Honolulu with daily Portland and San Diego round-trip flights by the end of this year.

Airline Partner Associates Inc., based in Portland,, told federal authorities in filings earlier this month that it hopes to do business as Trans Pacific Airlines, using leased aircraft.

One of the founding partners, Alan E. Lidow of Los Angeles, said yesterday that the company has experienced airline executives working with it and has lined up financial backing.

A possible $25 million initial public offering, mentioned in financial projections filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation and questioned by federal officials, is a secondary way of financing the airline and not essential now, Lidow said.

He called the startup of the airline "certain" and said it will be based in Honolulu, which will be the hub, and that other routes will be explored.

Representatives of the would-be airline had a meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration's flight standards office in Honolulu last week, said David Luehring, a representative of that office.

Luehring said they discussed steps needed to complete certification. At the FAA that normally means demonstrating that an airline has the proper maintenance procedures and crew qualifications in place.

He said the airline was talking about its plans and seeking to confirm what it must do to meet federal qualifications.

The airline also filed with the Transportation department's flight standards division in Washington, seeking to establish financial credentials.

The government responded March 15, in a letter noting that the company "provided no documentation supporting its financial plans" concerning the proposed stock offering. The department said the airline should show that it has filed a preliminary prospectus for the stock offering with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Lidow said the stock issue is just one financing possibility being considered and that the partners expect to satisfy the government's concerns.

Theodore "Ted" Escobar, currently maintenance controller at Hawaiian Airlines Inc., is listed in the documents as director of quality control at the new airline.

Escobar said yesterday he is acting only as a consultant for the startup, which so far is only "a paper airline", although he does plan to join Trans Pacific when it gets started.

Brian T. Weathers, a Salem, Ore., travel agent and cruise organizer, is listed as president and a one-third owner. Lidow, a former broadcast reporter and currently operator of a consulting business, is a director and a one-third owner.

The other owner is Philip E. Boucher of Los Angeles, listed as a former Trans World Airlines and Gray Line Tours executive who is now in the business of ocean tours and at-sea weddings.

The federal filings show that the proposed airline has been working on its business plan since 1994. Financial projections accompanying the Transportation department filing show the airline expects $65.2 million in passenger revenues and $4.7 million in cargo revenues in its first year.

The projections show an expected operating profit of $8.4 million in the first year.

Hawaiian and Aloha airlines, both of which serve mainland-Hawaii routes, declined to comment on the possible new competition.

Airline executives generally say making money is hard in the highly competitive, low-fare West Coast-Hawaii leisure market without an established mainland network to feed the flights and a strong interisland connection.

Others have tried and failed, such as Hawaiian Express and Air Hawaii.

Lidow said he and his partners have studied that history and won't make the mistakes the others did.

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