World Airways will begin low-fare scheduled service to California from Baltimore/Washington International Airport April 12, ending a nearly 12-year-old regulatory saga.

The charter airline's efforts to gain scheduled air authority through the Civil Aeronauties Board and the courts became a prime example cited by proponents of airline deregulation during congressional hearings.

Tickets on World's flights will cost $100 plus tax, about half the current regular coach cross-country fare. Tickets will go on sale March 28 through Ticketron distribution outlets, travel agencies and at World's airport ticket counters.

Travelers will be able to purchase tickets -- which represent a guaranteed reservation on a specific flight -- up to the time of departure. The tickets can be exchanged for space on an alternative flight up to seven days before the flight with no penalty, but travelers wishing to alter their plans within the seven days will be charged a $50 cancellation fee.

Initially, the DC-10 flights to and from Los Angeles from Baltimore will stop in Newark because new airplane deliveries to World were delayed, but a World spokesman said it hopes to have nonstop service going within a short time.

World initially will operate two eastbound and two westbound flights daily; it also plans to operate commuter service between Baltimore and Newark, and Los Angeles and Oakland.

World is one of several charter airlines to get new authority from the Civil Aeronautics Board to fly scheduled domestic and international services. Besides the cross-country operating rights, World recently acquired authority to fly to eight cities in Europe from eight U.S. cities, including the Baltimore/Washington area, and to Hong Kong from the West Coast.

Edward J. Daly, World's president, said starting dates for the international routes would be announced soon.