Monday, August 31, 2009

SkyEurope goes under

by B. N. Sullivan

SkyEurope AirlinesBack in June, I wrote a short post about Slovakian low-fare carrier SkyEurope Airlines when it voluntarily filed for reorganization, i.e., bankruptcy protection. Unfortunately, they didn't make it. A short time ago, SkyEurope announced on its Web site that it had "suspended its sales and operations immediately."

Jason Bitter, Chief Executive Officer of SkyEurope, tried to sound optimistic at the time the company filed for reorganization, saying, "It is good for our customers who may have full confidence in flying SkyEurope for holidays, city breaks, business travel, and friend and family visits. It is good for our suppliers who will be fully paid for goods and services provided during the reorganisation. And it is good for our employees because it allows us to preserve and protect jobs.”

Flight schedules continued until late today when, as an AFP news article put it, SkyEurope "threw in the towel" and canceled all of its flights. AFP reports on the rapid deterioration over the past 24 hours:
Earlier Monday the airline had cancelled all afternoon flights from Bratislava and all flights as of Tuesday from Prague.

The Ruzyne Prague airport said Monday it would halt all SkyEurope's flights as of Tuesday after the airline failed to pay its debts, the airport spokeswoman Eva Krejci told AFP.

The Vienna airport halted SkyEurope's flights in mid-August for the same reason.
Slovakian news Web site also reported that "SkyEurope wasn't able to refuel its airplanes, with the company purportedly failing to settle its payments to fuel suppliers."

More than a thousand passengers reportedly have been left stranded at a number of European airports. As usual, no mention was made of the fate of the crews and whether they were stranded at out-stations along with the passengers.

Payment of salaries to SkyEurope staff already were deferred earlier this month in an effort to give the company more operating capital. Sources in Eastern Europe speculated earlier today that perhaps flights were being canceled because employees were refusing to work. Whether or not a work stoppage was initiated I cannot confirm, but in any case, it's moot since the insolvent carrier now has ceased operations.

SkyEurope had bases bases in Bratislava, Kosice, Vienna, and Prague.