Friday, May 30, 2008

Silverjet ceases operations

SilverjetSilverjet, the 'low fare business class' airline, has grounded its three leased aircraft and suspended passenger service. In a brief message on the Silverjet website, CEO Lawrence Hunt announced that from May 30, 2008, the carrier "will cease operations." Referring to Silverjet investors, Hunt's message said that "due to unforeseen circumstances, they were unable to unlock the finance that we needed."

Seeming to suggest that there still was hope for the future, Mr. Hunt's message also said, "We are working actively with new investors who are prepared to inject new funds so we can recommence operations. If we are able to achieve this, we will make an announcement as soon as possible and we hope to be able to bring you our very 'sivilised' flying experience again."

Silverjet had been in operation since January of 2007. The airline had been offering all-business-class service from London Luton to Newark and Dubai, using Boeing 767 aircraft. The airline had never made a profit. Trading of Silverjet shares on the London stock exchange was suspended late last week, a foreshadowing of today's announcement.

An article on the Times Online website about the collapse of Silverjet said:
The decision to ground all flights came after Silverjet failed to secure a $5 million (£2.5 million) loan from a Gulf investor. Thousands of passengers have been left stranded or needing to change travel plans by the operator, which flies from Luton to Dubai and New York. The Civil Aviation Authority estimated that 7,000 UK and 2,500 nonUK customers have been affected and they are not covered by the air travel industry’s insurance scheme.

Silverjet has told passengers to contact their credit card companies or travel agents to try to recover their money.
No mention was made of the fate of crew or other Silverjet employees.

The shut-down of Silverjet follows that of competitor Eos Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy protection about a month ago. Another competitor, MAXjet, filed for bankruptcy in December of 2007. Earlier this month it was announced that MAXjet's assets were being sold to a group that said it intended to operate a luxury charter service.

For the moment, privately owned French airline L'Avion is the sole independent carrier offering business-class-only trans-Atlantic flights. L'Avion operates Boeing 757-200 aircraft between Paris-Orly and Newark.

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