SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Caribbean Sun Airlines, which was slated to begin service from its San Juan hub to the U.S. Virgin Islands Dec. 11, has been temporarily barred from operating in the U.S.V.I. while airline and government officials wrangle over the airline's name.

The U.S.V.I. government denied Caribbean Sun permission to register its name as a foreign corporation doing business in the U.S.V.I. because its name is similar to two other firms and would cause "confusion."

Sun Airways -- which chartered two flights in December 1998 and January 1999 and then ceased operations -- and Caribbean Airline Acquisitions, a local firm, are the two entities.

Caribbean Sun was to have launched U.S.V.I. service from San Juan with three daily roundtrips to St. Thomas and one daily roundtrip to St. Croix.

Airline attorney Tim Bolt said that more than 1,500 people will be stranded over the next two weeks "as a result of this foul-up."

Both sides are trying to work out a deal for "speedy resolution," Bolt said.

The U.S.V.I. attorney general's office is expected to rule on the matter shortly. Caribbean Sun, the official commuter line for US Airways, began operations Jan. 21, and provides regular service between San Juan and Tortola (British Virgin Islands), Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Kitts.

Caribbean Sun and its sister airline Caribbean Star serve 15 destinations within the Caribbean with more than 120 flights a day.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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