Make us your home page
Instagram

Avantair's troubles mount: Employees furloughed, fleet grounded

Avantair grounded its fleet earlier this month for a safety review, and it announced more bad news Wednesday. Some of the airline’s planes could be repossessed, as the companies that leased the planes say Avantair violated its contract.

DIRK SHADD | Times (2007)

Avantair grounded its fleet earlier this month for a safety review, and it announced more bad news Wednesday. Some of the airline’s planes could be repossessed, as the companies that leased the planes say Avantair violated its contract.

CLEARWATER — The future of fractional airline Avantair grew dimmer on Wednesday when the company reported that it is furloughing pilots and workers, needs additional financing to start flying again and is even in danger of having some of its planes repossessed.

On top of all that, the company also became the target of a class-action lawsuit filed in Oklahoma this week that could be joined by hundreds of other plaintiffs.

Avantair employs around 500 people and operates out of St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. It allows customers to buy shares of the company's fleet of private planes so they can schedule flights when they want to fly, skipping the hassles of commercial air travel.

But in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, the company admitted to a new slew of problems. Not only does the company need to find more money to start operating again, but the filing also said it is behind on payments for aircrafts.

The companies that leased Avantair those planes, Midsouth Services Inc. and Clear Aircraft Inc., told the Clearwater company it violated their contract. The two companies could take back its aircrafts and engines. It was not known how many planes could be repossessed.

Avantair's employees also received a letter Wednesday that said the company would not make payroll Friday for the hours they've worked since June 8. The company said it will maintain health, dental and vision plans for its workforce through the end of the month.

The company also released this statement Wednesday to the Tampa Bay Times:

"Today Avantair conducted a furlough of its employees as it addresses liquidity issues. It has requested that several specialized employees remain with the company voluntarily as it pursues alternative financing arrangements.

"The company regrets having to enter into this process and for the inconvenience this brings to Avantair's owners and card holders but believes it to be the most prudent action at this time.

"It is hopeful that it will soon be in a position to resume operations."

Avantair's financial issues seem tied to its safety issues. Twice in the past eight months Avantair grounded its entire fleet to conduct safety reviews of aircraft and inspection procedures.

Last summer one of Avantair's planes lost its left elevator, which fell off during a West Coast flight. By October, the company grounded its fleet of nearly 60 aircraft to conduct safety inspections. Avantair furloughed a large number of workers during that review.

Avantair's planes were cleared to fly again. But the fleet was grounded a second time on June 7 because of a potential issue involving the inspection of time-sensitive parts. The company does not appear to have flown since.

The Oklahoma lawsuit was filed by Heisman Square LLC. It says Avantair has failed to "adequately service" customers ever since October's furloughs and safety inspections. Failure to provide air service is also the reason why Polk County businessman C.C. "Doc" Dockery sued Avantair in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court last week.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3404.

Avantair's troubles mount: Employees furloughed, fleet grounded 06/26/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 10:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Judge throws out $458,000 condo sale, says Clearwater attorney tricked bidders

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold on Monday threw out the $458,100 sale of a gulf-front condo because of what he called an "unscrupulous" and "conniving" scheme to trick bidders at a foreclosure auction.

    John Houde, left, whose Orlando copany was the high  bidder June 8 at the foreclosure auction of a Redington Beach condo, looks in the direction of Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, foreground,  during a hearing Monday before Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold.  [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times ]
  2. Pasco EDC names business incubator head in Dade City, will open second site

    Business

    Pasco County economic development officials are busy reigniting their business start-up resources following the departure earlier this year of Krista Covey, who ran the Pasco Economic Development Council's SMARTStart business incubator in Dade City.

    Andrew Romaner was promoted this summer to serve as program director of the Dade City SMARTStart Entrepreneur Center, a start-up incubator service of the Pasco Economic Development Council. He succeeds Krista Covey, who relocated to Texas for another startup position. [Courtesy of Pasco EDC]
  3. Proposed Tampa tax increase prompts second thoughts about Riverfront Park spending

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park has a $35.5 million price tag with something for everyone, including a rowers' boathouse, a sheltered cove for beginning paddlers, an event lawn, a community center with sweeping views of downtown and all kinds of athletic courts — even pickleball! — when it opens …

    Expect the $35.5 million redevelopment of Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park to be a big part of the discussion when the Tampa City Council discusses Mayor Bob Buckhorn's proposed budget and property tax increase this Thursday. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer

    Nation

    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Superior Uniform acquires Los Angeles-based PublicIdentity

    Corporate

    SEMINOLE — A subsidiary of Seminole-based Superior Uniform Group has acquired Los Angeles-based branded merchandise company PublicIdentity Inc.

    Superior Uniform Group CEO Michael Benstock
[Courtesy of Superior Uniform Group]