Direct Air, the charter carrier that has been flying to Florida and South Carolina from the little-used Worcester Regional Airport, canceled all flights Monday night without warning.
Consumers have had a love-hate relationship with Direct Air - which actually has no planes of its own, but leases them from a collection of other carriers. Since service started in 2008, Central Massachusetts residents have had an option to avoid the busier area airports (Direct Air has been the only carrier serving Worcester).
Direct Air only runs routes from Worceter to a handful of locations, primarily Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Sanford, Fla. and Punta Gorda, Fla. Sheduling problems with the leased planes, mechanical issues and frequent complaints about poor communication when something goes awry, have dogged Direct Air.
Passengers on the scattered routes served by Direct Air, from Rockford, Ill., to Niagara Falls to its home airport in Myrtle Beach complained late into the night that they couldn't get an explanation for why every flight Monday evening was canceled. The carrier has no scheduled flights on any of its routes on Tuesdays and the next flight in or out of Worcester isn't scheduled until Thursday.
A growing list of posts on the company's Facebook page from frustrated customers disappeared shortly after midnight on Tuesday. The company did not immediately respond to a request to explain the cancellations and the apparent sanitizing of its Facebook page.
In an interview in November when I discussed with them their cancellation of new service planned for Puerto Rico (due to a claimed unavailability of aircraft to lease), the company's top officials told me of their commitment to the market and were dismayed that Massachusetts consumers had questioned their staying power.
It's question time again.
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About the author
Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com