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Monday 2 Jan, 2006 

Special Alert - FLYi/Independence Air to cease operations

More in sadness than surprise, I must pass on to you breaking news just now received.

Independence Air announced a short while ago it will cease operations - ie stop flying on Thursday 5 January.  No further flights will depart after 7pm (except for flt 177 from HPN to IAD).

While this sad news is not surprising, what is astonishing is the professional way the airline has handled its bankruptcy.  Since its announcement of bankruptcy in November, the airline has kept every promise and met every deadline.  It hasn't asked for extensions, and has done everything it said it would, exactly as it said it would.  And the entire process lasted two short months, including the Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year holidays.

Other airlines in bankruptcy could well learn from this.

Here is the entire text of Independence's announcement

Dulles, VA, (January 2, 2006) – FLYi, Inc., (Nasdaq: FLYIQ) parent of low-fare airline Independence Air, announced today that because of the continued financial challenges facing the company, it will voluntarily discontinue all scheduled flights planned to depart after 7:00pm on the evening of Thursday, January 5th. The company is seeking bankruptcy court approval to automatically refund customers with reservations for flights scheduled to depart beyond that time.

Customers with roundtrip reservations for trips departing before the cessation of operations (including those customers who have already departed) but were scheduled to return afterwards will be contacted by Independence Air and offered the opportunity to change their return reservations to one of the remaining days of operation. All change fees will be waived for changes made by phone. The company is also seeking bankruptcy court approval to automatically refund customers for those return flights that are not rescheduled. No refunds will be offered for free tickets or vouchers.

Customers whose trips are scheduled between now and Thursday evening should expect the same excellent service that Independence Air has become known for.

Independence Air Chairman and CEO Kerry Skeen said, “While we’ve been clear in reminding everyone that this was a possibility, we remained optimistic that there would be a way to avoid reaching this juncture. To date there has not been a firm offer put forward that meets the financial criteria necessary to continue operations as is. Therefore, we are voluntarily discontinuing scheduled service as of Thursday evening.

We offer our sincere thanks to the over eight million customers who have flown with us since the launch of Independence Air, and to the communities across America that we have served.”

Skeen continued. “And most importantly, we thank our extraordinary employees for creating an airline brand that has been so universally praised by our customers. Our people have demonstrated that they are capable of operating an airline that quickly rose to the top of the rankings in every major independent survey of airline quality and customer satisfaction. And while this is a profoundly sad day for all of us, we could not be more proud of our employees and everything they have accomplished.”

Customers are urged to visit the airline’s www.FLYi.com website if they have further questions as callers to the company’s toll-free number will likely experience long wait times.

Independence Air began service on June 16, 2004 and currently offers over 200 daily departures to 37 destinations.

The company has advised the public, and reiterates, that the likely outcome of the company’s bankruptcy proceeding is the cancellation of the company’s existing common stock without consideration, making FLYi stock of no value.

We are diminished by Independence's passing.  But you can bet that air fares on the routes they served will not be diminished - quite the opposite.

My article on Your Rights with Bankrupt Airlines sets out some more about the very limited 'rights' you have if you're stuck with Independence Air tickets you can't use.

Until Friday (unless any other airlines cease operation between now and then) please enjoy safe travels

              David M Rowell aka The Travel Insider

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