Direct Air passengers stranded in Myrtle Beach

Several Canadian customers lined up outside of Direct Air's corporate office in Myrtle Beach after their flight was canceled unexpectedly Monday night.

Pat Small, an airline employee, told customers there was a change in ownership. When customers asked if the airline went bankrupt, she couldn't say.

Tuesday afternoon, Direct Air issued this statement:

"Direct Air finds it necessary to suspend flight operation from Tuesday, March 13, 2012 until May 15, 2012. This decision was made to address operational matters. We are currently evaluating strategic alternatives for Direct Air. Direct Air is committed to our passengers, employees, and the communities we serve. Passengers holding reservations for Direct Air flights departing between March 13, 2012 and Tuesday, May 15, 2012 are directed to contact their credit card company to arrange for a refund. Please check back to our web site for more details.

Very Truly Yours,

Direct Air"

Scott Woodcock, from Ontario, Canada, told NewsChannel 15 he flew into Myrtle Beach on March 4 and was supposed to fly back at 5:45 p.m. Monday, when his flight was canceled without explanation. "We had to put ourselves up for the evening, out of our own pocket and our own money for food. We rented a car to drive back to Canada," Woodcock said.

So far, Woodcock has spent $150 dollars, but expects his expenses to reach somewhere between $400 and $500 dollars by the time he pays for food, the rental car and gas to get back home.

Woodcock hopes Direct Air will reimburse those expenses.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Transportation says Sky King and Xtra Airways, two of the carriers that fly planes for the airline, had informed DOT that they notified Direct Air they would cancel all future flights due to nonpayment.

"As a condition of approving its public charter program, Myrtle Beach Direct Air established an escrow account to make refunds to passengers if necessary. The Department is continuing to look into the cancellations," said DOT spokesman Bill Mosley in an email to NewsChannel 15.

"Currently, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce staff members are working in support of both in-market visitors trying to get home, and those visitors who were scheduled to fly into the Myrtle Beach area by helping to address their immediate travel needs," Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean said in a press release.

"We have informed various local travel agents of Direct Air flight cancellations and suspensions and are working with them to assist any visitor who may have experienced a canceled or suspended flight. We are offering various local travel agents' contact information to anyone calling our visitors center for assistance, in addition to providing them the contact information of both the airport and Direct Air's corporate headquarters," Dean said.

He added, "Lastly, the chamber's Myrtle Beach area welcome kiosk at the airport is also acting as a customer service desk to assist those visitors with either canceled or suspended flights. The MBACC is dedicated to making sure all visitors affected are provided the services they need until their flight issues are resolved, and we're working with local hotels and businesses to accommodate those in-market visitors to the best of our abilities."

More than 140 passengers were stranded in Lakeland, Florida overnight because of a canceled Direct Air flight, according to our sister station WFTS. The city put all the stranded passengers in hotels and a shuttle picked them up Tuesday morning to bring them to Orlando to fly out. The Lakeland airport director told WFTS they don't know what the problem was. He says its the absolute worst time for canceled flights because every flight is full due to spring break.