A last-minute battle to secure funding to launch new ski airline Powdair this winter has ended in disappointment for more than 5,000 customers who already had booked to fly.
But the company says it is in talks with a new investor to secure the long-term future of the airline – unfortunately, it says, the time needed to work through this process means it cannot launch this year.
Powdair issued a statement late on Friday, which explains its new position and gives some insight into what led to its crisis less than two weeks before the first flights to Sion in Switzerland were due to start on 11 December. Here is that statement in full:
‘On Monday of this week we alerted all of our passengers that our main financial investor had walked away from the powdair project. Under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) we cannot name the investor, but we can share with you the reasons behind their withdrawal. The collapse of Monarch and Air Berlin, followed by one of our preferred aircraft operators Swiss Adria (Darwin), plus speculation regarding the impact of Brexit on European aviation was summarised in a high profile article. Our investor was not from an aviation background and withdrew their support, and with it our ability to launch the airline for this winter.
‘This created a lot of uncertainty for our fledgling airline and we wanted to make sure you were notified in advance of any further big decisions.
‘Since Monday we’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support from investors, businesses and resorts in the UK, Belgium and the Valais. You sent us a very clear message of support and this inspired us to do all we could to find a new financial backer for powdair.
‘We have both good and bad news for powdair passengers booked to fly with us this winter season.
‘Firstly, we’ve had a significant investment offer from a professional and experienced aviation industry investor. Although we’re not in a position to confirm the identity of our new potential partner at this stage, their involvement will secure the financial future of powdair.
‘However, the due diligence required to finalise this investment will take at least 30 days and we have therefore made the difficult, but what we feel is correct decision, not to launch powdair this winter. Our new investor wishes to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to launch a strong, well-funded airline focused on long term success.
What does this mean for you?
‘Powdair is not going into administration. The company will continue to exist, albeit with a longer timeline for getting planes in the air.
‘We expect to relaunch during 2018 as an airline, operating our own aircraft, which gives us a much stronger basis on which to plan route schedules.
‘In the meantime, we will automatically be organising full refunds for everyone booked to fly with us.
‘We’d like to thank each and every one of you who’ve been in touch this week with your sincere messages of support. We strongly believe that a huge opportunity exists at Sion Airport, your support this week makes us more determined than ever. At the same time, we apologise sincerely for the disruption to your travel plans this winter. We truly hope that we get the opportunity to welcome you on board next year.
‘We’re here to answer any further questions that you might have regarding the future of powdair and are looking forward to announcing details of our new investor as soon as due diligence has been completed.’