Avantair Reboot Plan Faces Owner Pushback

 - July 16, 2013, 2:30 PM

The eleventh-hour proposal to restructure Avantair, the Clearwater, Fla.-based Piaggio Avanti turboprop fractional ownership program, is on hold amid owner resistance. Avantair’s “NewCo” proposal, floated July 3, included a $25,000 per-owner maintenance charge to make its grounded fleet airworthy; halving the service area and shedding a similar percentage of Avantair’s 620-some owners while requiring buy-in by 300 owners; and finding $4.5 million in outside financing bolstered by $2 million in cash and credit the company says Piaggio Aero, the Avanti’s manufacturer, has pledged. (Piaggio America president John Bingham told AIN that Piaggio is “pleased to support [Avantair] in any way we can within the boundaries of the situation,” but declined to discuss specific figures.)

On July 9 Avantair president and COO David Haslett emailed owners stating the company’s first priority is “to preserve the value of your fractional share asset in your aircraft, independent of any involvement in a NewCo,” and again asked for a $25,000 maintenance assessment. More than half a dozen owners AIN spoke with said they would not provide additional funds.

Meanwhile, Avantair faces debts of more than $122 million, owner lawsuits and repossession of its core aircraft.

Haslett did not respond to AIN’s request for comment.

Meanwhile, Rapid Aircraft Maintenance Services has taken possession of four Avantair aircraft at its New York-area Teterboro Airport base. It has filed a lawsuit in the Bergen County Court for permission to auction the Avantis in 30 days (on July 27) if Avantair does not settle its maintenance bills. RAMS owner Dennis Espinosa has posted the N-numbers of these aircraft on the Avantair owners forum in the hope that they will contact him directly to resolve the debts.


I'm not surprised that owners did not opt-in to this new plan. There was little if any true detail in the plans and most importantly, did not outline who the management was (assume it was the same group who could not manage Avantair) or how bad the true condition of the fleet was. Since owners never heard anything about the poor condition of the fleet PRIOR to this new plan, most of felt as if we had no idea what was going on, how many planes were flying, and that management had been withholding information from us for a long time.

On top of this, from Oct - June, it was very likely that any flight owners took would be delayed, cancelled or on more frequent occasions, on random charter aircraft. I was once offered a king-air 90 when they could not find me a plane. And over the past few months, being told that they could not offer a plane, nor could then offer a charter backup became more common, even though our contracts stated that they Avantair was required to provide charters when they could not provide a Piaggio.

For me, I've struggled with understanding what was told to me beginning at the "voluntary" fleet stand down in October, all the way until Avantair stopped flying last month. Lots of excuses and blame being passed around from Avantair management, promises of having the highest level of safety in the industry, but at the end of the day, I don't think owners had any idea what was going on behind the scenes. We were constantly told that things would improve soon, but with each of those promises, things just got worse.

In the end, with nothing left to hope for, I'm just sorry so many people got burned by Avantair - the employees, the owners, card members, vendors etc.

Thank you James, for bringing this issue to public attention. Your article, while not being all inclusive, states known and verifiable facts. I am sure that more will come to light.

If Avantair's plan was viable (and it's not), it would require many employees to return. These are the same employees that Avantair failed to pay for their last 3 weeks of service and who have filed two class-action lawsuits against Avantair and it's upper managers to recover the wages that they are owed. Also, Dave Haslett has resigned from Avantair.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

It all starts at the top. The entire management team should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I am an Edge card holder.......a scam from the beginning.....

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