Small Planet Airlines Germany files for insolvency

Small Planet Airlines Germany files for insolvency

German charter carrier Small Planet Airlines Germany declared insolvency this week, but its bosses aim to keep the airline flying while it seeks investment.

Small Planet, a subsidiary of Lithuania-based Small Planet Airlines, filed for insolvency in Berlin on Tuesday following months of delays and cancellations.

However, German travel trade publication FVW reported the airline’s joint managing directors Andreas Wobig and Oliver Pawel intend to carry on flying.

The pair said flights would continue through the winter season while they seek new investors.

Small Planet launched in Germany in 2016. It operates a fleet of nine aircraft and has flown on behalf of major German tour operators including TUI and Thomas Cook.

Vytautas Kaikaris, chief executive of the Small Planet Airlines Group based in Vilnius, suggested the German carrier had expanded too rapidly following the bankruptcy of Air Berlin last year.

He told Scandinavian trade media group Standby Nordic: “Late delivery of aircraft, shortage of crews, unreliable sub-charter aircraft and unforeseeable technical events had a devastating effect on a very intense schedule.”

Kaikaris has previously defended his employment of Small Planet Airlines chief financial office Halldor Sigurdarson, who remains in his role despite being found guilty of “thoroughly dishonest” behaviour by the High Court in London in 2014.

Sigurdarson and co-defendants Phil Wyatt and Magnus Stephensen were found liable for £1.4 million following the collapse of UK tour operator Goldtrail Travel in 2010, a failure which left creditors owed £33 million.

The UK Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the three in 2016 finding they were “fully and intimately involved” in dishonest arrangements with Goldtrail’s owner and “assisted to divert Goldtrail’s money”.

Wyatt, Stephensen and Sigurdarson have been involved in a string of failed companies, including Viking Airlines and Meridian Aviation, and were running XL Leisure Group when it collapsed in 2008 owing £145 million and leaving 85,000 passengers stranded.

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