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The Record, Tuesday, March 6, 2001

Rothman calls for probe of airline
Firm says it obeys rules at Teterboro

By DANIEL SFORZA
Staff Writer

Rep. Steve Rothman on Monday asked state and federal authorities to investigate whether a charter airline operating at Teterboro Airport violates airport regulations and, if so, to shut it down.

Indigo, a Chicago-based airline that operates scheduled flights between Teterboro and Chicago, has been at the airport since August, running flights up to four times a day each way.

"If Indigo is indeed violating airport rules . . . Indigo should be forced to cease operations at Teterboro Airport immediately," the Fair Lawn Democrat wrote in letters to both the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Teterboro, an airport used mainly by private pilots and corporate jets, is neither equipped nor approved to handle commercial flights. Scheduled service is also not allowed, Port Authority officials said.

Indigo officials say they do not violate FAA or Port Authority regulations because they operate as a charter service that specializes in chartering one seat instead of the entire plane.

"The request is unnecessary, inappropriate, and, frankly, I would characterize it as a waste of valuable government resources," said Indigo's attorney, Aaron Goerlich. "The operations that Indigo is conducting are fully consistent with all legal requirements."

Indigo is licensed as a public charter operator by the U.S. Department of Transportation and is certified by the FAA.

Port Authority officials have said they are investigating Indigo's operation to make sure that it meets Teterboro guidelines.

"The Port Authority is reviewing Indigo's operations to determine if Indigo is following both Port Authority rules and FAA regulations regarding what constitutes scheduled service," PA spokesman Greg Trevor said. "If Indigo is indeed offering scheduled service in violation of Port Authority rules, we will take all steps necessary to make sure that Indigo complies with Port Authority rules."

FAA officials did not return calls Monday.

Flights on Indigo can be booked on the Internet or through a travel agent. Each one-way flight costs $629, similar to commercial fares. Indigo flies a fleet of four Dassault Falcon 20 jets, which seat eight passengers.

The service runs two morning flights, as well as an afternoon and an evening flight. Each flight is numbered, for example, Flight 100, Flight 102, etc.

Matthew Andersson, Indigo's chairman, has said he wants to expand the fleet to 100 planes and fly routes between Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Dallas, Chicago, and Teterboro, as well as other smaller airports around New York City.

"I am also highly disturbed that Indigo intends to expand its operations," Rothman wrote. "With plans for this major expansion in capacity . . . it is critical that the PA review Indigo's practices immediately before its service proliferates and even more local residents are force to suffer."

Rothman has been in the forefront of complaints regarding the tiny airport, saying that noise generated by the large volume of corporate jets negatively impacts the lives of nearby residents.

Teterboro handles about 500 flights daily, most of which are jets.

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