WASHINGTON -- Like Eastern, TWA, and Pan Am before it, Independence Air flew into the history books yesterday.
''It's very emotional for a lot of our people and our customers," said Rick DeLisi, an airline spokesman, hours before the last flight was due to depart for Washington Dulles International Airport from White Plains, N.Y.
DeLisi was among about 2,600 Independence Air workers facing unemployment. He said both employees and customers were saddened by the loss of the low-fare carrier, and that thousands of phone messages and e-mails had come into company headquarters.
''We kind of figured something was going to happen, and you have to expect the worst outcome. You don't want to hear it. It's hard to deal with," said Jean Brennan from behind the Independence Air check-in counter at Dulles.
Independence Air began operations nearly 19 months ago as former executives from Atlantic Coast Airlines tried to turn a contract carrier for Delta and United into a discount airline that would eventually serve 36 markets from its Dulles hub. Parent FLYi Inc. filed for bankruptcy Nov. 7.
By last night, the carrier's fleet of 42 planes was to have landed at Dulles. At its peak, the carrier operated about 87 aircraft.
Analysts said high fuel costs and low passenger loads prompted the company to reduce its ambitious flight schedule.