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Home Ingezonden Ingezonden Never a dull moment in airline business! (part 1of 2)
Never a dull moment in airline business! (part 1of 2) PDF Afdrukken E-mail
maandag, 18 februari 2013 08:02

I JUST received an alert on the latest developments of an airline that I have been following over the last years out of professional curiosity, because of its peculiarities and consistent name changes after being sold by disillusioned owners. BonairExel, owned by a Dutch millionaire, was renamed to several other Exels and finally was named Dutch Antilles Express (DAE). The airline was on the verge of bankruptcy when the Dutch millionaire took his losses and sold the company to a local businessman, Mr. Leonora, for one guilder, who in turn took all that was left and disappeared. Government officials grabbed their chance to become heroic saviors, pumped public money in DAE and thought they had improved their chances to be re-elected. After all they saved some local jobs. The then serving Minister of Transportation asked for an annual report to deduct the investments in safety level and probably to ease his consciousness or his future post ministerial liability. These numbers were never presented. A new CEO was appointed, the then future prime minister Stanley Betrian, some share swapping was done and then history started to repeat itself.

Bankruptcies, debts to investors or to the public, through government investments attempting to control the damage, can easily be circumvented: Tell all major creditors that they might get their money back if they are willing to take losses and continue to give support in the future. They are in too deep already to pull out. And never mind the smaller creditors, they can be replaced easily. Their bankruptcy comes with the business, it’s their problem.

Nelson Ramiz was hired in 2011 to save the company. He received a management fee for that. Obviously the government officials mentioned above gave him full support by conveniently changing rules and regulations so he could bring in aircrafts from his US company, Falcon Air, and wetlease them to DAE. This also created the possibility for DAE to start operating flights to the USA. The Civil Aviation Authorities of Curaçao were downgraded to category 2 by the US Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), meaning that successful existing operations to the USA that were operated by another local airline, Insel Air, could not be expanded. So DAE was granted a competitive advantage over its competition by ad hoc adaption of rules and regulations by the new shareholder, the government. Important here is that privately owned competitor Insel Air was forced to invest significantly in obtaining aircrafts of their own, because the previous rules and regulations prohibited wetleasing aircrafts from companies that do not have local control and ownership. The government denied Insel Air to wetlease an aircraft from another airline to expand their operations because of these regulations.

So the downgrade to category 2 by the FAA was easily circumvented by DAE, because the friendly government officials suddenly decided that wetleasing foreign aircrafts was allowed and changed the regulations accordingly. Ramiz conveniently started to lease aircrafts from his US company Falcon Air to DAE. Another source of income besides the management fee he already received...

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Lexington, Massachusetts, USA