7 months after ceasing ops, Fly Jamaica files for bankruptcy
Fly Jamaica’s revival appears to not be going according to plan. After an incident and subsequent aircraft loss in late 2018, the airline ceased operations in late March 2019. A new group of investors attempted to defibrillate the “Greenheart” but are now filing for bankruptcy, media reports indicate.
Fly Jamaica laid off employees and ceased operations in March 2019. In July 2019, it was taken over by a new group of investors with hopes of a turnaround and operations relaunch, with flights to New York (the U.S.) and Toronto (Canada), in a few month’s time.
However, Fly Jamaica’s indebtedness appears to be too great for the ambitious goal. In late October 2019, the airline filed for bankruptcy protection, the Financial Gleaner reported on December 15, 2019. The airline is now putting up a proposal for creditors to vote on in mid-January 2020, which could ultimately determine whether the airline will be restructured, sold or liquidated.
It is estimated that the airline is indebted to some 260 creditors to whom it owes $22 million, yet the list is believed to be not complete.
Established in 2012, the carrier, which used “Greenheart” as it callsign, operated only two aircraft: a Boeing 757-200 that the airline had since its launch, and a leased Boeing 767-300, which was added to the fleet in 2014, based on planespotters.net data.
On November 9, 2018, the airline’s Boeing 757, performing flight OJ256, was en route to Toronto, Canada, when some 20 minutes into the flight, the pilot noticed problems with the plane’s hydraulic system and requested permission to return to Georgetown, Guyana. Upon landing at Cheddi Jagan International Airport (GEO), the aircraft overshot the runway. Of the 120 passengers and eight crew members on board, six people were injured.
“There were no broken bones or other serious injuries reported, however, six passengers suffered minor injuries due to the impact to the back of the aircraft,” a social media statement by the airport read. However, media reports later indicated that at least one passenger died at a hospital from, allegedly, injuries sustained during the accident.
The Boeing 757 sustained substantial damage, including a collapsed right main gear and impair of right engine. The aircraft was written off, leaving Fly Jamaica with only one other plane ‒ the 27 year old Boeing 767 ‒ and mounting debts.
The incident and subsequent aircraft loss proved to be a big burden for the airline’s finances. “[...] due to our lack of aircraft and the impact that it has had on the Company's financial position, we have no alternative but to make all our employees redundant effective March 31, 2019,” Fly Jamaica Airways Chairman and CEO Paul Ronald Reece explained in a letter announcing the airline’s halt of operations on March 29, 2019.
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