DANIA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Dynamic International Airways, less than six years old and operating a small fleet of jets, sought to carve out a niche of less-trodden destinations that major U.S. carriers don't fully serve, according to company documents. That strategy faces a new test after one of its Venezuela-bound planes caught fire on a Florida airport taxiway.
Dynamic, based in Greensboro, North Carolina, just added its service to Venezuela from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in July. Before that, it has flown its seven Boeing 767s mainly from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Guyana and Guam, according to company documents.
"Although Dynamic is a small carrier based on its number of aircraft, it is an essential carrier for travelers needing transportation to locations not served by the legacy carriers," the company said in a court filing.
The aircraft that caught fire Thursday at the Fort Lauderdale airport was bound for Caracas, Venezuela, carrying 90 passengers and 11 crew members. More than 20 people were injured in the mishap, which shut down the airport temporarily, canceled numerous other flights and stranded some passengers overnight. The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched a four-person team to begin an investigation.
"We're not here to point fingers. We're here to figure out what happened," said Tim LeBaron, senior air safety investigator.
Some passengers worried about bags and belongings still on the plane, which was towed to a remote corner of the airport.
"That is the first thing, to know the truth. We don't know what is going on with the baggages. We don't have an official statement from the airline," Jose Rangel, family member of a passenger, told reporters Friday.
Airport spokesman Greg Meyer said the luggage "is being reunited with the passengers" and that they had options to fly to Caracas over the next three days.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane was built in 1986 and suffered no previous incidents or accidents. Its owner is KMW Leasing LLC, based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Likewise, FAA and NTSB records show Dynamic — which is privately held — has a clean safety record, with only one serious incident in 2011 when a flight attendant was injured during in-flight turbulence. The plane in that case was undamaged and landed safely.
According to a regulatory filing, Dynamic's executives all have extensive aviation industry experience. Its chief executive officer, Gregg Lukenbill, is a former owner of the NBA's Sacramento Kings who previously ran a charter airline, Sky King Inc., that flew professional sports teams and musical acts such as Bon Jovi and Tina Turner around the world, the filing said.
The Caracas-bound aircraft's captain has more than 15,000 hours of flight experience, said Don Dodson, Dynamic's director of operations.
Yet there have been some bumps in Dynamic's road.
Earlier this year, the airline was forced involuntarily into bankruptcy court in New York by three hotel creditors over allegedly unpaid debts. A settlement was reached and the case was dismissed, court records show.
Also in New York, Dynamic was sued earlier this year by a group of people irate over cancellation of a round-trip flight that had been scheduled last December from JFK airport to Georgetown, Guyana. The plaintiffs were all would-be passengers and are suing to obtain ticket refunds.
The lawsuit said Dynamic kept hundreds of people waiting for hours into the night before cancelling the flight and then failed to inform all of the ticket buyers when it was rescheduled a few days later. Dynamic denied any wrongdoing, but earlier this month an undisclosed settlement was reached, according to court documents.
(This version has been corrected to show that 101 passengers and crew, not 110 were on board)
Associated Press writers Freida Frisaro in Miami and Hannah Dreier in Caracas, Venezuela, contributed to this story.