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Dallas Man Wants To Buy Braniff, Turn It Into Business Fliers’ Carrier

December 29, 1989

DALLAS (AP) _ Braniff Inc. would be returned to Texas and revived as a business fliers’ airline - with some entire flights reserved for corporations - under a Dallas businessman’s plan to buy the company now in bankruptcy reorganization.

Kay Cohlmia, a former Braniff employee and aviation company owner, said Thursday he has lined up some investors, but hasn’t arrived at a price for the airline. Braniff, based in Orlando, Fla., filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors in late September and has ceased operations.

″We don’t know how much money it’s going to take to buy it,″ he said.

Cohlmia said he talked to attorneys for Braniff’s unsecured creditors’ committee, to Merrill Lynch Capital Partners and to Teamsters union officials.

″We’re going to take a look and see what his idea is,″ said Richard Levy, an attorney in New York for Braniff’s unsecured creditors.

But Levy cautioned, ″It’s nothing like there’s something that’s moving with any pace here. We’ll consider all appropriate ideas, as I hope (Braniff) will.″

Cohlmia said he would go to Orlando to discuss his plans with various people involved in Braniff’s bankruptcy proceeding on Jan. 6, the same day a series of court hearings are scheduled.

He said he hasn’t talked to Braniff officials because ″they won’t appoint anybody there″ to run the airline.

Braniff moved its headquarters from Dallas to Orlando earlier this year, but Cohlmia said he would return the carrier to its traditional home.

Cohlmia - who once proposed a ″smokers’ airline″ - provided only bare outlines of his plan, which he said includes a contract with Dallas company JOH Inc. to lease jets for the first outbound and last inbound flights daily out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

He described JOH as a diversified holding company owned by Jo Ann Harris. Ms. Harris had not returned phone calls late Thursday.

″Depending on how many planes we’re allowed to get,″ he said a Cohlmia- run Braniff would be a long-haul, one-price carrier, ferrying businessmen from New York to Dallas and other cities. He envisions a round-trip fare at $399 between Dallas and New York. The current full-price, round-trip fare is about $900 on most carriers.

″We have a great plan, an incredible plan,″ he said.

Cohlmia worked for Braniff in the 1960s as a baggage handler before founding Cohlmia Aviation Inc., which ferried checks for the Federal Reserve System.

Then in 1984 and 1985, he said, ″I put the first mail hub together, operating the western part of the United States, using Las Vegas as our hub.″

″I thought he was a good operator,″ Las Vegas postmaster Joseph A. Ryan said, adding Cohlmia lost the contract to a lower bidder after 18 months.

Braniff had 4,800 employees, including about 450 in Dallas, when it filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 28.

BIA Acquisitions, an investor group formed by PaineWebber Group Inc., bought Braniff in 1988 for about $100 million.

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