"The Airline Mess" {editorial, Sept. 6} was as irresponsible an indictment of the airline industry as we have seen. Your writer charges "some airlines" with scheduling nonexistent "phantom flights" that they have no intention of operating despite having accepted countless reservations from passengers. You go on to suggest that some airlines will "continue to demonstrate blatant disregard for anything resembling serious scheduling" and recommend darkly that these airlines be "denied the very prime access they covet" -- whatever that means.

The airlines of the United States are responsible businesses run by dedicated men and women. To depict them as covetous conspiracies operating in blatant disregard of the public they serve is itself blatant, irresponsible nonsense that one would not expect of The Post.

Airline scheduling is an extremely complex process, which has as its objective the design of a schedule that will operate reliably, economically and profitably. The schedule is the airline's "product" -- what it produces and sells. It must offer dependable, safe service with the right-size aircraft to the places the public wants to go. Deregulation has placed a much greater strain on the system, what with hub congestion and multiple services: all airlines go all places these days.

Airline managements are keenly aware of the price they pay for unreliable operations. Delays cost money and create passenger discontent, which cannot be long tolerated in a competitive market. The airlines don't need fatuous editorials to help them get back on course. Nor do we need Congress to legislate the industry back on time.

Morten S. Beyer

The writer is president of Avmark, Inc., a worldwide aviation management service.