SkyGreece majority owner apologizes for grounding, says restructuring underway

MONTREAL — The majority owner of SkyGreece Airlines says he’s sorry for the airline’s grounding that has stranded about 1,000 passengers.

“It’s very, very, very bad but it’s beyond my control,” Ken Stathakis said in a telephone interview from Toronto.

“I cannot help it, I couldn’t do anything. I’m very, very sorry.”

SkyGreece cancelled all of its flights last week, saying it was due to technical issues and financial setbacks resulting from the Greek economic crisis, but didn’t elaborate. The airline called the move a temporary situation and said its operations were expected to resume soon.

Stranded passengers may have to wait three weeks to get answers about the company and the ownership status of its only aircraft — a Boeing 767 that is parked at Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ont.

Passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs has called for the Canadian Transportation Agency to order the airline to rebook its stranded passengers on other airlines within 24 hours and put up $8.7 million of security to cover passenger claims.

“SkyGreece does not support proceeding on an expedited basis,” a lawyer representing the airline said in an email to the agency on Monday, adding that SkyGreece is “in the process of consulting with its stakeholders with a view to restructuring.”

SkyGreece wishes to resolve these issues as quickly as possible, but it will “require careful analysis, consultation with all of its stakeholders, and proceeding in a manner that allows a full response by all stakeholders,” Massimo Starnino said.

The agency had given the airline until 5 p.m. ET Monday to respond to a request from Lukacs for an expedited review of his complaint.

Lukacs said he was disappointed by SkyGreece’s objection.

“It adds insult to injury to the passengers who are currently stranded,” he said in an interview.

Lukacs also asked them to answer a series of questions about its ownership structure, finances, assets, disposal of assets and number of stranded passengers.

He said he wants to ensure that no money was inappropriately taken out of the company through the payment of dividends or transfer of assets.

“What I want to make sure is that if there is any money for anybody involved in this, that money goes to passengers,” he said from Halifax.

In the email, Starnino said a substantive response to the issues raised by Lukacs is “complex and will be a time-consuming process, particularly given the context of Greece’s broader economic crisis, the impact of that crisis on SkyGreece’s operations, and the voluminous request for information.”

The airline was founded in 2012 and started operations in 2014 with one plane. A 2013 report from airline publication Flight Global said SkyGreece entered into a lease-purchase arrangement through a U.S. bank on behalf of an American investor.


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