Local News

Spring Break Turns to Spring Bust

Posted March 9, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Cancun, Mexico would seem an idyllic place in which to be stranded, but a lot of college students -- many from North Carolina -- are singing "Show Me the Way to Go Home."

Their spring break travel plans initially were marred when a tour operator's chartered plane did not show up at Raleigh-Durham International Airport a week ago; now the FAA has stepped in to pull that airline's operating certificate. The FAA issued an emergency suspension on Friday, which was effective immediately.

When and how the students now in Cancun can make it back to their campuses is up for debate.

The suspension, which cited 33 violations, covered safety, maintenance, and flight attendant training and competence. Among the specifics: flying without radar near thunderstorms, flying with low engine oil and flying with a cracked cockpit windshield.

Last weekend, more than 100 students on spring break found their travel plans brought to a halt at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, where the blame bounced between the tour operator, Take-A-Break, and AvAtlantic, a charter airline headquartered in Savannah, Ga.

After spending a couple days sleeping and eating at the airport, the students finally left for Cancun Tuesday. On Friday, they learned that getting back home will be just as much of a challenge, due to the FAA action. The kids could be stranded for another few days.

AvAtlantic officials have not returned phone calls.