- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2007

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The bar is closed on US Airways flights in New Mexico.

The state ordered the airline to stop serving alcohol on flights in New Mexico after learning that it didn’t have a state liquor license.

The discovery came during an investigation of a fatal drunken driving crash involving a man who was accused of being intoxicated on a US Airways flight to Albuquerque, said Ed Lopez, superintendent of the state Regulation and Licensing Department.

“We’re interpreting it to apply to all US Airways flights scheduled to arrive in or depart from New Mexico,” Mr. Lopez said of the order. “They should not be selling alcohol while in New Mexico airspace.”

The lack of a license means the airline is “effectively bootlegging,” he said.

The state delivered a cease-and-desist order to US Airways officials Monday at Albuquerque’s airport, Mr. Lopez said.

“We’re aware of the order and we’re going to comply,” Valerie Wunder, a spokeswoman for the airline, said yesterday from Tempe, Ariz.

The airline has about two weeks to notify state regulators that it has stopped serving alcohol, and then it may apply for a liquor license, Mr. Lopez said.

All other major airlines operating in New Mexico are licensed, Mr. Lopez said.

The Nov. 11 traffic wreck that led to the order killed five members of one family and the man whose truck hit their van head-on.

Dana Papst, 44, was driving the wrong way on Interstate 25 near Santa Fe when his truck hit the family’s van. Blood tests showed Mr. Papst’s blood-alcohol content was four times the state’s legal limit for driving.

Authorities also accused a convenience store in Bernalillo of selling beer to Papst between the time he got off a US Airways flight and the crash even though he was already drunk.

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