MyAir grounding forces CRJ1000 order recall

 - August 28, 2009, 8:02 AM

Bombardier Aerospace has lost its firm order for 15 CRJ1000s from MyAir after Italy grounded the airline and suspended its license to fly on July 24. The Italian civil aviation authority said months of financial troubles had made MyAir’s services unreliable and that it would not allow it to resume operations until it presents a viable financial plan.

The original contract between the Canadian manufacturer and the Italian carrier called for delivery of nineteen 86-seat CRJ900s. Bombardier had delivered four of those aircraft when, in February 2007, MyAir converted the remaining 15 to the larger 100-seat CRJ1000, scheduled for delivery beginning in the first quarter of 2011. Now flying two CRJ1000s in its flight-test program, Bombardier expects the airplane to gain certification by year-end.

The loss of the order reduces from 64 to 49 the number of CRJ1000s on firm order from France’s Brit Air and Spanish operator Air Nostrum.

L’Ente per l’Aviazione Civile (ENAC), Italy’s aviation authority, in an “urgent decree” officially revoked MyAir’s license to fly following its failure to maintain service, stranding hundreds of passengers in late July. MyAir has been seeking an infusion of capital for months. An ENAC spokeswoman said that the airline had failed to pay for essential services and meet tax commitments, and authorities gave the carrier 24 hours to restore smooth operations. MyAir could not meet the deadline, she said, and allowing the airline to continue operations would only aggravate problems for travelers.

“At the end of July MyAir submitted a provisional plan regarding its financial situation but several meetings with ENAC proved inconclusive,” said the spokeswoman. “Approval of a final plan is necessary if the license is to be restored, but this will not happen until September at the earliest.”

On June 25 ENAC issued a temporary license with the hope that the airline, which had been seeking recapitalization for several months, would overcome its financial problems. The move followed an investigation in March concerning €17 to €18 million ($24.3 to $25.7 million) in unpaid taxes.

Italian flag carrier Alitalia established special low fares for passengers affected by the cancellation of MyAir flights on July 23, 24 and 25.

Based in Torri di Quartesolo, Vicenza, in northern Italy, MyAir began operations in December 2004 with three wet-leased Airbus A320s. Its main operations centered on a primary hub at Orio al Serio Airport, in Bergamo, and it operated a second hub at Marco Polo Airport in Venice. Its fleet of three A320-200s, one Boeing 737-300QC (operated by Mistral Air) and four 86-seat CRJ900s flew from 15 Italian cities to 11 airports across Europe as well as Istanbul, Turkey, and Casablanca and Marrakesh, Morocco.

A Bombardier spokesman said the CRJ1000’s development “is moving along well” and that the program has suffered no other cancellations or deferrals. However, the cancellation of the MyAir order may lead to a reduction in production rates at the Mirabel, Montreal plant. In early April Bombardier announced 3,000 layoffs in addition to approximately 1,400 job cuts in February.