Friday 19 October 2018

JetGreen.gone - budget fliers stranded as airline goes bust

David Murphy and Kathy Donaghy

THE sudden withdrawal of a major investor promising ?800,000 led to the collapse of fledgling airline JetGreen Airways yesterday, leaving up to 200 holidaymakers stranded in Spain.

The company had paid almost ?500,000 into a bond run by aviation regulator Bill Prasifka, which will refund travellers who have to buy new flights to return home.

Stranded passengers can expect to fork out ?240 for a one-way Aer Lingus fare from Malaga tomorrow, while the price drops slightly over the next few days. All flights for today are booked out.

With Ryanair, the first available flights are on Saturday, with the cheapest fare listed as of last night at ?159.60.

A number of the businessmen behind the budget carrier were also involved in a company called Freshaer, which controversially collapsed last August after it emerged it did not have a full licence to operate flights.

JetGreen had been advertising cheap trips to Alicante and Malaga over the past four months.

The company commenced its schedule last week, but yesterday announced the suspension of operations as it ran out of cash after shareholders met and decided against pouring in further funds.

It is now planning to hold a meeting of directors to consider winding up the company.

A highly successful marketing campaign promoting flights from ?1 helped the company sell 44,500 tickets. The company also sold tickets to Rome, Faro and Nice but it's understood hadn't actually flown there yet.

Travellers who have bought tickets and not yet travelled have been advised to firstly contact their credit card companies, travel insurer or travel agent.

Failing that they can make a claim with Mr Prasifka's Commission for Aviation Regulation.

Creditors are expected to include the Revenue Commissioners, caterers, Omega House, the airline's landlord at its offices near Dublin Airport and Icelandair which provided charter aircraft.

The company employed 22 people. Files in the company records office show the biggest shareholder was Guernsey-based corporate financier Colin Gervaise-Brasier (61). He was involved in Freshaer.

In a statement JetGreen said: "It is a matter of deep regret for shareholders and staff that, despite strong support from the public, the company is unable to continue. We would like to thank all the people who have booked with us and apologise for the undoubted inconvenience this causes."

Last night, Ryanair chief executive, Michael O'Leary, said: "This is the second bankruptcy of an Irish airline in just four months. In early spring JetMagic.com went bust, stranding thousands of passengers at overseas airports, and now today JetGreen Airways has gone the same way."

Mr O'Leary blamed the aviation regulator for permitting JetGreen to go into business. However, it is understood Mr Prasifka's powers do not let him assess whether a carrier has sufficient finance to operate.

Holidaymaker Ian Noctor said he was in west Malaga with his fiance Jenny when he got the news about the collapse of JetGreen yesterday.

As head of news with radio station Today FM, he said he was fortunate to be informed of the company's demise by his colleagues in Dublin. Otherwise, he would have turned up at Malaga airport to find there was no plane home.

Mr Noctor, who is due to fly back to Dublin on May 22, said there was no attempt on the part of the company to inform him and his fiance of the company's situation.

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