Bargain Fares Matched

Last month's filing for bankruptcy protection hasn't prevented Flyi Inc., parent of Dulles-based Independence Air, from offering bargain fares.

But United Airlines, Flyi's largest competitor at Dulles International Airport, is determined not to give the smaller company an advantage: It has matched many of Independence Air's discounted fares.

United, if you haven't heard, also is operating under bankruptcy protection.

Don't count on snagging cheap seats on peak travel days around Christmas, when many flights are heavily booked or sold out. But bargain fares are available from Dulles on many other days.

An e-mail from Flyi to its frequent fliers this week trumpets the airline's "Naughty or Nice Sale."

Flyi promises a one-way advance-purchase fare of $39, plus taxes, from Dulles to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, for example. Tickets must by booked by midnight tonight and will be valid for travel between Sunday and Jan. 3.

Flyi's fine print tells travelers that the bargain fares are not available for flights leaving Dec. 21, 22, 23, 26 or 27, when tickets sell for as much as $189 one way, plus taxes.

A check of Flyi's Web site on Monday, however, found a lot of $39 seats to Chicago available on other days, including Christmas day, New Year's Eve and New Year's day.

United Airlines' low-fare carrier, Ted, is offering the same fare between Dulles and O'Hare. With taxes, the lowest Ted and Independence Air round-trip fare on that route comes to $98.40.

Independence Air's advice to travelers worried about flying an airline that has filed for Chapter 11?

"Customers should take additional comfort in knowing that FAA officials have a great deal of experience in overseeing the safety programs of airlines that have filed for bankruptcy protection," Flyi says on its Web site. "It is possible -- based on the experience of other airlines that have entered Chapter 11 -- that the FAA may choose to scrutinize and oversee the company's operations to an even greater degree than usual during the coming months."

Inova Expands in County

Fairfax-based Inova Health System has expanded its presence in Loudoun County, leasing an additional 30,220 square feet in Corporate Office Park at Dulles Town Center. The hospital chain will use the space for its information technology department.

Early this year, Inova leased 23,871 square feet at Corporate Office Park -- developed by Lerner Enterprises -- for its blood-donor center, which supplies blood and blood products to 15 hospitals in the Washington area.

Inova acquired its first Loudoun hospital this spring, merging with Loudoun Hospital Center, now Inova Loudoun Hospital. Inova also owns hospitals in Fairfax County and Alexandria.

North Bethesda-based Lerner Enterprises also has been active in Loudoun this year.

Lerner projects scheduled to open in 2006 include:

* Parc Dulles, a 393-unit luxury apartment community at Dulles Town Center.

* Residence Inn, a 151-room all-suite hotel in Dulles.

* An 80,000-square-foot office building at Sterling Park Technology Center.

Bank Appointment

Arlington-based James Monroe Bank has named Paul W. Bice to head its Loudoun County operations.

Bice joined James Monroe in 1998 as a founding officer and lender, and he opened the bank's Leesburg office in April 2001.

James Monroe also has full-service branches in Annandale, Chantilly, Fairfax City and Manassas.

Small-Business Seminars

The Loudoun County Small Business Development Center is sponsoring two seminars at Eastern Loudoun Regional Library:

* "Start Your Own Business," next Thursday, which will include tips on marketing, insurance, taxes and licensing.

* "Fundamentals of Franchising," Dec. 14, which will focus on the legal and financial aspects of purchasing a franchised business.

Both programs will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. They are free, but registration is required. To register, call 703-430-7222 or email sbdc@loudounsbdc.org.

An Invitation to Shop

The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce's "Shop Loudoun" holiday event will be held today from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the National Conference Center at Lansdowne. Representatives of local businesses will be on hand to offer gift ideas.

-- BILL BRUBAKER

Have news about Loudoun and Fauquier county business to share? Send an e-mail to brubaker@washpost.com.