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Investment firm backs Air South, takes control

Air South Airlines Inc. said investment banking firm Hambrecht & Quist Inc. will provide additional capital to the discount carrier, giving it a controlling interest in the company.

Terms of San Francisco-based Hambrecht & Quist's investments weren't disclosed. Officials of the Columbia, S.C.-based regional airline weren't immediately available for comment.

Air South also said it named John Tague its president and chief operating officer, effective immediately.

Tague, who was earlier president and chief operating officer of American Trans Air, comes to closely held Air South from the Pointe Group Llc, a transportation and aviation consulting firm, where he is co-chairman and chief executive.

Tague will replace Rod Brandt. Tague will become chairman Sept. 15, succeeding Clif Haley, who will continue as director.

Air South, which operates a fleet of seven Boeing Co. 737-200s, said the additional capital will help the airline strengthen its infrastructure, improve service and broaden marketing programs.

Thursday, Air South said it cut about a quarter of its flights to improve on-time performance. The 2-year-old airline will now operate about 40 flights a day.

Air South operates in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

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