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Saturday, March 2, 2024 | Back issues
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Charter Service Sues College After Flight Flap

(CN) - A charter airline says Florida International University breached a contract for flying its football team to away games after emergency repairs forced a three-hour delay for the first flight of the season. Instead of following the contract's procedures for dealing with such foreseeable problems, the university needlessly hired another carrier to take the players to the game and then tried to make the charter pay the $95,600 in additional costs, Global Airline Services claims in Miami-Dade County Court.

Global says FIU still owes it $106,300 under the contract the college violated.

(In between the expensive flights, FIU lost to Alabama in the Crimson Tide's Sept. 12 home opener, 40-14.)

Global says it had a contract with FIU was to fly the football team to and from six games this season aboard a 162-seat aircraft. Global subcontracted the flights to Falcon Air Express out of Miami International Airport, the complaint said.

Global's president Harold Pareti claims he traveled to the university and then to the airport to oversee the team's departure. But about 15 minutes before the scheduled boarding, an inspection showed that emergency lights on the floor did not work. Global claims this fell within the parameters of the contract, and that Pareti stayed in constant contact with university officials to apprise them of the status of the repairs.

The contract between Global and the university provides that if an aircraft slated for use by the team experiences mechanical or other issues 2 hours or more before take off, the charter service would be responsible for lining up an alternative aircraft.

Though the timing of the discovery of the problem didn't technically trigger that provision, Global claims that making alternative flight arrangements was still its responsibility.

At no time did the university ask Global or its subcontractor to contact American airlines about an alternative flight. Instead, after indicating that they were considering booking another flight, university officials abruptly stopped returning Pareti's calls, the complaint states.

Global claims the university's actions were wasteful and unnecessary because the original aircraft was taxiing to the terminal when the team bus passed it on the way to the American Airlines flight.

Compounding the waste, the arrangement with American Airlines called for its plane to be flown back to Miami empty after dropping off the team in Birmingham, and then for an empty plane to be flown back to Alabama to pick the team up the following day, according to the complaint.

Notwithstanding the cancellation of the contract, the charter service said it was still willing to handle the remainder of the flights that were included in the original agreement, but the university is declined to act on the offer, the complaint says.

Global Airline Services is represented by Ivan Reich with Gray Robinson of Fort Lauderdale.

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