THOUGH attorney Peter Bartošík in general is somewhat pessimistic about the likelihood of recovering substantial parts of debts owed by SkyEurope, he nevertheless is advising his clients to submit claims. “As lawyers, too, are not immune to cancelled flights, I will also be submitting my own claims against SkyEurope,” Bartošík, a partner in the B & S Legal firm, said in an interview with The Slovak Spectator. Bartošík also explained the process of bankruptcy and talked about customers’ options in recovering their losses.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): The court already has the proposal by the restructuring trustee for declaration of SkyEurope’s bankruptcy. What are the next steps in the process and what impact will it have on SkyEurope?
Peter Bartošík (PB): The restructuring trustee (administrator) is obliged to file the request for declaration of bankruptcy, if it cannot be reasonably assumed that the financial or business situation of the debtor will allow for successful restructuring. If the motion of the restructuring trustee is filed, the court will stop the restructuring process within 15 days, start bankruptcy proceedings and declare the assets of SkyEurope to be in bankruptcy.
Following declaration of bankruptcy, the court will appoint a bankruptcy trustee whose task is to liquidate the assets of the company and satisfy the creditors from the proceeds of sale of all assets. Taking into account the fact that SkyEurope has ceased operation, it is very unlikely that its operations will be restarted.
TSS: What are the options for customers, employees and trade partners of SkyEurope?
PB: Following declaration of bankruptcy, all creditors of SkyEurope need to submit their claims to the court and the bankruptcy trustee handles the claims in a way similar to the application of claims during restructuring proceedings. The period for submission of claims is within 45 days after the declaration of bankruptcy.
TSS: What is the likelihood that SkyEurope customers can recover the payments they made for flights that will never take off?
PB: The customers who made payments to SkyEurope must submit their claims in the bankruptcy proceedings. The likelihood of receiving the due amounts are predominately determined by two factors: the sum of the total claims submitted by all unsecured creditors and the outcome of the liquidation and sale of SkyEurope’s remaining assets, how much money will be received by the bankruptcy trustee from selling the assets of SkyEurope. As both factors are uncertain at this point in time, it is impossible to anticipate the potential for satisfaction of the unsecured creditors of SkyEurope, including those who bought tickets for future flights.
Another important factor is whether the assets of SkyEurope are pledged or otherwise used as security for its debts. The relevance for customers is that secured creditors, such as banks, may be beneficiaries of pledges for specific assets of SkyEurope. In such cases, the proceeds from the sale of these specific assets are distributed primarily to the secured creditor or creditors and only the remaining balance of the proceeds will be used for satisfaction of general, unsecured creditors.
In general, I am somewhat pessimistic about the potential for recovery of substantial parts of the debt owed by SkyEurope. Nevertheless I will be advising our clients to submit their claims. As lawyers, too, are not immune to cancelled flights, I will also be submitting my own claims against SkyEurope.
According to information from public sources, customers who made payments through credit cards are also authorized to claim a refund from their bank. I am not knowledgeable about the details of these schemes.
TSS: SkyEurope’s CEO has already hinted that he might try to revive SkyEurope. Under what condition would it be possible to use the SkyEurope trademark?
PB: SkyEurope possesses multiple registered trade marks which covered its business. As the registered trademarks are assets, the bankruptcy trustee will attempt to liquidate the trade marks, that is, the trustee will offer the trade marks for sale. The best bidder will be able to purchase the trade marks from the bankruptcy trustee and then will be able to further use them.