Friday, 27 November 2020

Nature Air Admits US$1.6 million Debt After Fatal Crash and Suspension

The airline president says the actions of Civil Aviation is the cause of its financial problems, and that some passengers have to be reimbursed for canceled flights, but the airline is not bankrupt and the suspension has created a "harmful monopoly".

Nature Air, the troubled airline that this week was officially grounded by aviation authorities, blames the same body, the Dirección General de Aviación Civil (DGAC), for the difficulties it faces to refinance its operations and attract new investors.

The president of the Nature Air, Alex Khajavi, at a press conference at Tobias Bolaños Airport. Photo Alonso Tenorio, La Nacion

The company estimates that the inability to resume its flights has caused economic losses of up to US$1.6 million in 2018. As well as the dismissal of most of its staff, going from 105 to 12 workers today.

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This was the word from company CEO, Alex Khajavi, who criticized the way in which the DGAC has handled the process against the company since the December 31 accident, in which 12 people, 10 passengers, and 2 crew, died in Corozalito de Nandayure, Guanacaste.

The DGAC announced on Wednesday the indefinite suspension of Natura Air’s operation, basing the decision on the fact that the company has not resumed activities, although precautionary measures issued after the accident were lifted in February.

Khajavi assured that the measures adopted by the DGAC in the last months caused the cancellation of 600 flights in January, affecting 10,000 passengers who had already paid for their trips; added to this are another 15,000 customers who also disbursed money for future flights.

“We were unable to insure the aircraft at a reasonable cost and we lost the agreements of aircraft contracts that we had already insured, all this caused by the inactive state of not being able to operate the flights due to the suspension,” Khajavi said.

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“By the end of February 2018, Nature Air was forced to layoff 85 full-time employees, most of them with about 7 years of having been working for the company,” he added.

The president of the airline acknowledged that they still have not reimbursed some passengers, nevertheless, he guaranteed to be making the necessary efforts with the banks.

Despite the economic crisis, Nature Air maintains that it is not bankrupt and that it expects to obtain cash flows in order to reactivate its services.

Khajavi took the opportunity to point out that, with Nature Air out of the market, a “harmful monopoly” has been created, leaving SANSA as the sole provider, causing a rise in prices and “the disappearance of low-cost airfares to nationals” .

“None of the airlines that hope to enter the market have the penetration that Nature Air had to oppose this monopoly in the Costa Rican market,” he said.

Causes of the accident still to be defined

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Another pending issue is the causes that befell the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft to crash at noon on December 31, 2017, shortly after taking off from the Punta Islita runway at Corozalito de Nandayure.

Two Costa Rican pilots and 10 American tourists died in the crash.

The company claims that the unfortunate events were the result of “force majeure” and that they had taken all possible precautions to avoid a tragedy.

Khajavi said by internal policy the airline had previously made the decision to reduce from 12 to 10 the number of passengers at Punta Islita and Nosara airports. “Even when we took extreme precautions, landing at another airport, and waiting for better weather reports, the strong and intermittent winds, the approach and obstacles at the airport, contributed to the accident,” the airline president said.

An independent investigative unit of the DGAC in charge of preparing the final report on the possible causes of the crash. Once the report is presented to the  Civil Aviation Technical Council, its conclusions will be made public.

DGAC director, Ennio Cubillo, said the process has been slow due to the fact the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) seized documents related to the company, which produced an “impasse” of several months.

Source (in Spanish): La Nacion

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