Via Air had an F-rating from the Better Business Bureau and 71% of TripAdvisor reviews that were poor or terrible (at the time even Allegiant was only 27% negative and Southwest Airlines 6%).
In May they didn’t show up for an inaugural flight at a new airport and no one knew why. They weren’t returning calls from customers or even the airport.
- They eventually blamed the grounding of the 737 MAX, even though they operate regional jets.
- They also said they had a problem attracting pilots. That’s a real challenge for an airline that, I’m told, stopped paying its employees.
Credit: Via Air
They stopped paying the airports they were serving. They started cancelling flights. Customers were showing up at the airport but there weren’t staff. Then they effectively shut down.
Via Air had low fares, high costs, and served routes without enough passengers like Beckley and Parkersburg, West Virignia to St. Augustine, Florida. I started warning customers about buying tickets on the airline.
After shutting down, Via Air announced a deal with Ashley Air of Atlanta with plans to re-launch scheduled air service this fall out of a hub at Orlando Sanford airport. Ashley Air CEO John Ashley said they would pumping cash into the carrier to “eventually expand to the hundreds of communities that desperately need direct air service.”
That didn’t happen, and now Via Air is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In the bankruptcy filing they claim Ashley Air didn’t come through with the promised cash,
which led to Via defaulting on payments to secured creditors, unpaid rent on airport hangars and the Internal Revenue Service not being paid owed taxes. Via Airlines also claimed that Ashley Air didn’t pay employees’ wages and didn’t reimburse passengers for canceled flights.
Of course these creditors, including employees and the IRS, were owed these payments in the first place because Via Air ran a bad business.
The carrier “owes unsecured creditors over $6 million, along with two property liens of approximately $115,000 and $3.5 million” plus back taxes the IRS lists at $660,000 “but Via claims the amount is less.”
Via Air’s bankruptcy counsel say they’re going through Chapter 11 “to eventually begin doing business again.” That seems… hopeful.