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Skybus founder trying to save airline
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**CLICK THE LISTEN ICON TO HEAR AN EXTENDED INTERVIEW WITH JOHN WEIKLE **
One of the founders of Skybus doubts the current executives reasons for why the airlines failed. And he hopes to revive the bankrupt airline.
Skybus founder John Weikle said he had no idea Skybus was closing until he received dozens of phone calls last Friday night.
Weikle said as the weekend progressed, so did his thoughts about wanting to save the airline and the 450 jobs that were lost in the folding.
“I can’t stop thinking about it,” Weikle said.
Skybus filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Saturday night, which means the airline has the option to reorganize. But it also can liquidate or sell off parts of the airline.
Weikle thinks Skybus will liquidate and he says he’s prepared to buy.
“There’s a chance to present a plan to the creditor’s committee to either reorganize or either buy the certificate, you know, if they liquidate, to buy part of the airline. Like the air carrier operating certificate. So that’s what I’m doing, and while I was thinking about it, others have thought about it and were thinking about it as well because I have been contacted by some potential big investors who might be interested in bringing Skybus back,” Weikle said. Weikle, however, would not say who has contacted him about investing in the folded airline.
Skybus cites the nation’s slow economy and ever increasing fuel costs as reasons for its demise. But Weikle, who said he left the company about a year ago, said he does not think that’s the case. He believes former CEO Bill Diffenderffer and other executives lost control of the airlines. And Weikle said he thinks it all started in December when 18 flights were canceled Christmas Day and the day after.
“They weren’t the media darling they were in the beginning. They weren’t selling 80 percent of their seats like they were in the beginning. Everybody loved Skybus in the beginning, but as more and more flights were canceled or delayed, and this has happened to a lot of airlines, they lose the confidence of the flying public,” Weikle said.
WOSU spoke with Diffenderffer who quit the airline about a week before it filed for bankruptcy. Diffenderffer would not comment on the record about Weickle’s claims.
Skybus had not been in the air even a year before it went under. The airline lost $16 million during its first three months of operation. That was based on an operating revenue of $22 million.