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ATA sets nonstop flights to Fort Lauderdale, L.A.


American Trans Air, a small Indianapolis-based carrier, will begin nonstop service from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Los Angeles starting in mid-December.

During off-peak times, the airline is offering introductory one-way fares of $99 to Fort Lauderdale and $169 to Los Angeles, and round-trip for double the fare. Typical of a growing number of discount flights at BWI, the ATA flights do not have advance purchase or minimum stay requirements.

The airline is the latest in a series of low-cost carriers that have launched discount service at BWI since Southwest Airlines spearheaded the trend more than a year ago.

The six-day-a-week service to Fort Lauderdale will operate seasonally from Dec. 16 to April 30. The daily flight to Los %J Angeles will operate six days a week from Dec. 18 to Jan. 7 and less frequently after that.

Founded in 1973 as a charter airline, ATA began offering scheduled service from its Indianapolis hub in 1986. Regular flights now represent 40 percent of its business. It offers nonstop service from Indianapolis, Chicago-Midway, Milwaukee and St. Louis to 18 cities, including leisure destinations such as Hawaii, the Caribbean and Florida.

Billing itself as "America's only true vacation airline," ATA offers large beach towels instead of blankets on board, tropical drinks and children's meals on flying saucers. Crew members, like those with Southwest Airlines, dress casually.

Currently, there are only two nonstop flights a day to Los Angeles and four to Fort Lauderdale, two of the most popular destinations from BWI.

The company operates a fleet os 36 aircraft, including Boeing 757s, which seat 216 people and will be used on the Baltimore flights. The publicly held airline employs 3,800 people.

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