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FLIGHT SCHEDULES GETTING BACK TO NORMAL

July 31, 2001 – All airlines serving the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas and the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix were operating Tuesday after most major flights were canceled Monday due to volcanic ash in the atmosphere from the Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat.
Minnette Velez, spokeswoman for American Airlines, said American was "100 percent" back on schedule. American Eagle, she said , was still working on "getting planes back to their stations."
When planes are rerouted or schedules interrupted and aircraft are not where they are supposed to be, she explained, it takes time to get them back on schedule.
one Delta plane grounded because of severe engine damage from volcanic ash was still inoperable Tuesday afternoon, but a Delta employee said the airline was nevertheless back on schedule. The new engine had arrived on St. Thomas, but had not yet been reinstalled.
Though the major airlines were not operating in or out of the territory Monday, Seaborne Airlines, Cape Air and other smaller lines which use propeller planes continued service without interruption.
Omer ErSelcuk, chief marketing officer for Seaborne, said, "Seaborne flew 100 percent of its normal schedule [Monday], as we were unaffected by the ash present at higher levels in the atmosphere. We expect to fly our full schedule for the balance of the week."
Bob Bruce, operations manager for Four Star Aviation, whose planes were also grounded Monday, said that day's conditions were not unknown to him. As a captain with Eastern Airlines in May 1980, Bruce said he was flying into Seattle at 30,000 feet as Mount St. Helen's was erupting
"No one told us what was happening," he said, so he flew through volcanic ash that "trashed all three engines."
Bruce didn't take any chances Monday with Four Star's DC-3s. They were grounded. The aircraft have "huge air scoops that suck in air," he said, which, in the case of atmospheric volcanic ash, includes gritty pumice that destroys bearings and other mechanical parts it comes in contact with. Bruce said it would cost $50,000 to $60,000 to rebuild one of the Four Star DC-3 engines.
A release from the V.I. Port Authority Monday morning said travelers should call the airlines directly for information on specific flights.

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