Troubled SkyEurope files for creditor protection

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Embattled Central European budget carrier SkyEurope Airlines has voluntarily filed for creditor protection by a Slovak court in order to restructure its troubled operations.

The carrier says it will continue "full operation" of flight schedules, preserve jobs and honour both current and future air tickets.

SkyEurope says the decision to file with the Bratislava district court will give the company "time to improve liquidity" and restructure its debts. The airline says these debts have been "a barrier" to external investors.

Chief executive Jason Bitter says the filing is a "good step" for the airline, allowing it to operate without disruption during the reorganisation process.

"It is good for our customers who may have full confidence in flying SkyEurope," he says. "It is good for our suppliers who will be fully paid for goods and services provided during the reorganisation.

"And it is good for our employees because it allows us to preserve and protect jobs."

The airline, which has struggled against heavy losses and removal of aircraft by lessors, adds that the step will give it space to "realise the full potential of the base and route network" and make the carrier "more attractive" for possible investors.

SkyEurope says the objective of filing for protection is to emerge a "stronger and financially-stable business".

Chief financial officer Nick Manoudakis says the carrier has a "convincing" business plan, and is "confident" that the airline can secure additional investment to support its development.

"Together with our already-proven low cost-base, these measures will deliver a financial turnaround of SkyEurope."

SkyEurope operates a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft, including two owned 737-700s. It has been arranging leases on older 737s in order to rebuild its fleet after lessor GECAS took back several aircraft.