SKYEUROPE recently figured in an advertisement which was not promoting its low-cost airline prices to London and elsewhere. A Czech firm, Beyond Interactive, instead named SkyEurope in the advertisement in order to attract creditors of the airline to join it in filing a petition to have the firm declared bankrupt. Beyond Interactive called on other creditors to contact it within five days of the advertisement’s publication on June 2.
The airline said it would not comment but added that if it found that the Czech firm’s solicitation was damaging the good name of SkyEurope, it would take further steps, the SITA newswire reported.
The airline also said that the situation would not have any impact on the fluency and safety of flight operations or on conditions for SkyEurope passengers.
Lawyers confirmed that the process of a creditor securing a declaration of bankruptcy is much more complicated than just running an ad.
The conditions for filing a petition for declaration of bankruptcy by a creditor are relatively strict, Peter Bartošík, an attorney and partner of the law firm B & S Legal, told The Slovak Spectator.
“A creditor may only file a petition for declaration of bankruptcy if the debtor is in default with payment of the receivable of such a creditor for more than 30 days and, simultaneously, a statutory assumption that the debtor is bankrupt is triggered,” Bartošík said.
Even fulfilling the conditions for filing a petition for declaration of bankruptcy does not mean that the bankruptcy will be automatically declared by the court, according to Bartošík.
“After its receipt, the court will first deliver the petition for declaration of bankruptcy to the debtor and will request that the debtor provides evidence of its payment capability within 10 days,” he said.
If the debtor is unable to provide evidence of payment capability within this period or within an additional period of 10 days (which the court may grant at its discretion), the court will declare bankruptcy or will appoint a preliminary trustee, who in such a case would be asked to review whether there are sufficient assets to cover the costs of bankruptcy, Bartošík explained.
David Lhota, the authorised representative of Beyond Interactive, said that the company published the ad because it had not seen any other way to proceed.
The company had booked advertising for the airline a year ago, according to the Sme daily.
“We are solving this situation,” SkyEurope spokesman Tomáš Kika told SITA. “In the event that we assess it [this situation] as damaging the good name of the company, we are ready to take even legal steps.”
Kika also said that until the situation was resolved the company would refrain from commenting since it pertains to partners and suppliers of the company and he does not consider it right to solve it through media.
Kika also said that the situation would not have an impact on the frequency and safety of flight operations or on conditions for SkyEurope passengers.
However, a declaration of bankruptcy need not mean an end to the operation of the airline.
“A declaration of bankruptcy has the effect of transferring responsibility for the operation of the company and for the disposal of its assets to a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee,” Bartošík said.
According to him, the bankruptcy trustee continues the operation of the bankrupt company, provided that one may reasonably believe that selling the assets of the company as a whole, or in substantial parts, will generate a higher amount than splitting the assets and selling them individually.
“To conclude, the impact of a declaration of bankruptcy on SkyEurope would largely depend on the opinion of the bankruptcy trustee – whether the trustee believes that the assets of SkyEurope when sold as a whole have greater value than the same assets sold individually,” Bartošík added.
“Further, continuous operation of SkyEurope after a declaration of bankruptcy would require the consent of the owners of assets leased by SkyEurope.”
SkyEurope Airlines reported operating revenues at €84.807 million for the first half of the financial year, which lasted until the end of March 2009. This represented a drop of 15.7 percent when compared with the same period of the 2007/2008 financial year, SITA wrote.
In the same six-month period SkyEurope transported 1,248,622 passengers, 24.2 percent less than a year earlier. The occupancy rate of its aeroplanes, however, increased by 1.1 percentage points from 68.7 percent to 69.8 percent. The company reduced its labour force during the period from 694 to 548, a drop of 21.1 percent, SITA reported, based on data provided by SkyEurope.
SkyEurope Airlines operates flights from its Bratislava, Prague and Vienna bases. Its fleet has decreased from 15 to the current eight Boeing 737 planes, which it plans to increase to 10 planes this summer. The company was founded in September 2001. Its share capital is €661,223.
8. Jun 2009 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová