BA franchisee National Jet Italia suspends operations

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British Airways (BA) Italian franchise partner National Jet Italia (NJI) has suspended all flight operations after running into financial problems during its transition to new ownership.

NJI commenced operations for BA in July last year, and has primarily acted as a domestic feeder to BA international operations. A spokeswoman for BA says: “NJI has today suspended operations with immediate effect. We understand it has encountered difficulty in securing adequate funding to sustain its business.”

NJI flights will remain suspended until further notice, she adds, and the airline will not accept further bookings. BA says it is reassuring passengers booked on NJI flights that it will re-book them on alternative routes.

Despite the suspension, NJI insists that the company is not bankrupt and that it is not intending to close the operation. A spokeswoman for the carrier says: “We have had difficulty in obtaining new funding for the continuation of our business. We are still discussing this with creditors.”

She says that the airline is having problems securing financing from banks because of the downturn in the air transport industry. Last month NJI grounded both its leased Boeing 737-400s and cut its Rome-Nice and Rome-Athens routes as a result of the economic crisis.

Before the suspension the carrier had been operating four British Aerospace 146-300s - all of which it owns - on routes from Rome to Genoa, Catania, Palermo and Verona.

NJI has undergone two changes of ownership in the past few months. Its latest owner, Dutch group Nikoram Holding, is currently acquiring the airline from Aviation Partners Worldwide (APW), which itself took over NJI only last August.