Low-Cost European Carrier Seeks Protection; Planes Grounded

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The Slovak Spectator is reporting that, after Orly Airport in Paris seized an airliner belonging to Slovak low-cost air carrier SkyEurope Airlines on Monday, June 22, the airport in Bucharest, Romania, did the same with an additional two SkyEurope airplanes on June 23. The two planes in Bucharest were later allowed to depart.

Bucharest Airport alleges that SkyEurope owes it $737,214, the Romanian Transport Ministry explained. Orly has been holding one plane since Monday and has also stated that unpaid debts are the reason for its move, the Czech news portal iHNed.cz reported.

SkyEurope spokesman Tomáš Kika told the SITA newswire that the company ordered a legal analysis of the French airport’s move, which indicated that Orly Airport may have taken illegitimate action. Talks between the two sides on the situation are still pending.

SkyEurope Airlines announced earlier this week that it had applied for court protection from creditors for three months. SkyEurope's finance director, Nick Manoudakis, said that, according to Slovak law, court protection from creditors may last for up to 90 days and can be prolonged by two more months. Manoudakis stressed that the company’s goal is to restructure its debt and gain new investment as soon as possible. He refused to elaborate on the sum SkyEurope would like to obtain through new investment.

During the restructuring process, existing contracts with suppliers have to be observed by both sides. Suppliers will be paid for services provided during the restructuring process but the company will be protected from activities aimed at collecting debts from the past. The company has been facing growing pressure from creditors in recent weeks. SkyEurope Airlines, based in Bratislava, operates flights from its three bases in Bratislava, Prague and Vienna. Its fleet has decreased from 15 to its current eight Boeing 737 planes; the airline intends to increase the number to 10 planes this summer.

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